Beardsley Surgery

     Grandma’s Marathon course record holder Dick Beardsley of Austin, Texas, had back surgery Thursday to replace a disc and reported on his Web site Friday that the surgery was a success.

     Beardsley, 53, had back fusion surgery in 1994, the result of a farm accident, but had no other back problems until the last few months. The surgery was performed by orthopedic surgeon Randall Dryer of the Central Texas Spine Institute. After a total knee replacement in January, Beardsley had returned to running and biking and was a guest speaker at Grandma’s Marathon on June 20.

Fischer, Boxer in Tech Hall of Fame

     Former Minnesota Duluth sports information assistant and Michigan Tech sports information director Dave Fischer, now the head media relations guru with USA Hockey, is one of seven new members going into the Michigan Tech Sports Hall of Fame during induction ceremonies Nov. 7 in Houghton. The Hall of Fame began in 1985.

     The 2009 induction class also has football player Don Boldt, hockey player and coach Herb Boxer, women’s basketball player D.J. Evans, cross country and track athlete Chris Klaes, major contributor John Opie and  football player and wrestler Ron Ray.

Here are bios for Fischer and Boxer:

     Dave Fischer was Michigan Tech’s sports information director for a 17-year span from 1987-2004. He had the added responsibilities of assistant athletic director for the final seven years of his tenure. During his time, Fischer served five years as the information director for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. He was also on numerous committees with the College Sports Information Directors of America and had more than 40 publications cited for excellence by CoSIDA. Fischer, who now serves as the director of communications for USA Hockey in Colorado Springs, Colo., continues to be a tireless promoter of Michigan Tech and a regular contributor to the Huskies Club.
     Herb Boxer turned in a stellar career as a hockey player from 1967-70 and returned as the program’s head coach from 1985-90. The Hancock, Mich., native recorded 37 goals and 36 assists in 97 games, helping the Huskies to one Western Collegiate Hockey Association title and two NCAA Tournament appearances. In 1968, he became the first American-born player taken in the National Hockey League Draft. Boxer was named Tech’s head coach in 1985. His most successful season came in 1987-88, when the Huskies placed fourth in the WCHA and he was named WCHA Coach of the Year. Boxer currently works for Cook Systems International in Memphis, Tenn.

Update: Goucher’s First Pitch

     Baseball fans may get a glimpse of Kara Goucher before Saturday’s 3 p.m. game at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago as the White Sox face the New York Yankees on KQDS-Fox 21 in Duluth. The U.S. Olympian is throwing out a ceremonial first pitch.

     Running fans will get a much closer look Sunday, for more than an hour, but will have to be up early for the 6:30 a.m. inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago Half-Marathon. The Web site plans to have start-to-finish coverage specifically of Goucher on what’s been dubbed Kara Cam here. The 13.1-mile race is a tuneup for the World Championships women’s marathon Aug. 23 in Berlin.

     “My objective in Chicago is get in a good, hard effort,” Goucher, 31, said recently from home in Portland, Ore. “I would like to use this race as a chance to execute my Berlin plan, so I’ll run conservatively for the first half of the race and try to drive hard the last third. I want to find another gear the last three miles.

     “I have no time goal, but obviously I’d like to run a personal best. But I sort of ran the race of my life the first time I ran a half-marathon and I don’t know if I’ll be able to run a time like that right now, during a heavy training load.”

     The former Duluthian has won her previous two half-marathons. In her debut at the distance, at the Great North Run in 2007 in England, she set an American women’s record in 1 hour, 6 minutes, 57 seconds, and was first in the Lisbon (Portugal) Half-Marathon on March 22 in 1:08:30.

     Sunday will be her U.S. half-marathon debut, although the women’s field isn’t expected to offer much competition.

     “[Coach Alberto Salazar] wants me to run the first half of the race at my goal marathon pace [about 5:18 per mile], and then start to pick it up. He wants me to really push that last mile,” said Goucher, who finished third in April’s Boston Marathon after being out-kicked in the final mile.

     Goucher’s mother and sister, Patty Wheeler and Kelly Grgas-Wheeler of Duluth, are expected to be in Chicago on Sunday. Later in the day, Goucher and her husband, Adam, will take flights to Munich and Zurich, Switzerland, before arriving by train in St. Moritz, Switzerland. She’ll work out there for about 15 days before going to Berlin.

      Also sharing in pregame festivities Saturday in Chicago, the White Sox beer vendor who was voted most popular by fans from the Miller Lite Appreciation Month held during July will throw out a ceremonial first pitch. Country-folk singer and song writer Sean McConnell will perform an acoustic set and the national anthem.

      Live audio commentary of Sunday’s half-marathon on will be provided by former U.S. track Olympians Todd Williams and Juli Henner Benson. There also will be a live race blog by online editor Sean McKeon.

More Dick Beardsley

     Grandma’s Marathon course record holder Dick Beardsley of Austin, Texas, wrote to Rink and Run the other day saying he was having a sore back examined this week. On Wednesday, he had a blog entry which noted: 

     "I had major back surgery-fusion in 1994 as a result of the farm accident and car accident. It has not given me any problem until last September and now has become worse over the past few months. We bought a new mattress, thinking that would help, but it didn’t.  

      "(After an MRI on Wednesday he was told he needed surgery to replace a disc.) The good news is, the doctor had a cancellation and I’m scheduled for surgery Thursday morning and they have a less invasive procedure they do now that speeds up recovery time and I should only be in the hospital for a day maybe 2 at the most. I’m looking forward to getting back out running and cycling in the not to distance future."

      You can follow Beardsley here.

Brown to Name Coach

     Brown University of Providence, R.I., is expected to name Dartmouth assistant Brendan Whittet as head coach this week. He replaces Minnesota native Roger Grillo, who has taken a job as regional manager with USA Hockey’s American Development Model. Reportedly among the finalists for the Brown job was former St. Scholastica defenseman and one-time Saints head coach Mark Workman. He was a St. Scholastica assistant (1993-95), head coach (1995-2001) and spent one season as a Minnesota Duluth volunteer assistant (2001-02). Workman, 38, has been on the Brown staff for six years. Here’s a story from Wednesday’s Providence Jounal:

     East Providence native Brendan Whittet will be the new head coach of the Brown University men’s hockey team. Whittet, an assistant coach at Dartmouth since 1998, was offered the job Tuesday morning, according to the U.S. Hockey Report. U.S. College Hockey Online and the College Hockey News reported Tuesday afternoon that Whittet had accepted the offer.

     An announcement is expected later this week.

     “We’re really excited about it,” said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet, Brown’s head coach when Whittet played at the school, told USCHO. “He’s a guy with a lot of passion for the game and for Brown. He wore the uniform down there, and I think that is going to translate to the players, the passion he has for the school.”

     Whittet, played for Mount St. Charles and the Kent School before enrolling at Brown. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in organizational behavior and management in 1994.

     He was an assistant at Brown and Colby before moving to Dartmouth. Whittet will replace Roger Grillo, who resigned to take a job with USA Hockey.

     Others who reportedly received interviews were Boston College assistant Mike Cavanaugh, UMass assistant Red Gendron, Union College associate head coach Rick Bennett, Colorado College assistant Joe Bonnett, Brown assistant Mark Workman, and Brown women’s coach Digit Murphy.

U.S. Hall Announces 2009 Class

     The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth announced its 2009 induction class, which includes the 1998 U.S. Olympic gold-medal women’s team with former Minnesota Duluth player Jenny Potter of Edina, Minn., among the forwards. Potter, 30, is a mother of two and the oldest player trying out for the U.S. team for the 2010 Winter Games. She has played in three Olympics. Here is Tuesday’s release from USA Hockey:

     COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The 1998 U.S. Olympic women’s team, Tony Amonte, Tom Barrasso, John LeClair and Frank Zamboni will be enshrined into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame as the Class of 2009, it was announced Tuesday by USA Hockey.

     "This is a truly magnificent class," said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. "Each member of the Class of 2009 has had an extraordinary impact on our sport and is most deserving to take their place among the hockey immortals in the United States."

     The 1998 U.S. Olympic women’s team had a powerful impact on the growth of girls’ and women’s hockey in the United States thanks to the success it enjoyed at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. The team twice defeated arch-rival Canada, including by a 3-1 count in the gold-medal game, en route to winning the first gold medal presented in women’s ice hockey at an Olympic Winter Games. Behind the guidance of Head Coach Ben Smith, Team USA finished the tournament undefeated (6-0-0) and outscored its opponents, 36-8. Cammi Granato, a 2008 U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Inductee, Karyn Bye, Katie King and Gretchen Ulion, co-led the U.S. with eight points each, while netminders Sarah Tueting and Sara DeCosta split time in goal, each winning three games.

     The date and location of the official induction ceremonies associated with the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2009 will be released in August. The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame was founded in 1973. To date, there are 138 enshrined members in the Hall.

     Tony Amonte played a major role in one of the most memorable moments in U.S. hockey history when he scored the game-winning goal against Canada at 17:25 of the third period in the deciding game of the the inaugural World Cup of Hockey in 1996. In 1,174 games over 15 years in the National Hockey League, Amonte registered 416 goals and 484 assists for 900 points, while playing for five teams (New York Rangers, Chicago Blackhawks, Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and Calgary Flames).

    Tom Barrasso, who won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991, 1992), is one of the finest American-born goaltenders to play the game. Among U.S.-born netminders, Barrasso ranks first in National Hockey League playoff victories (61) and second in regular-season victories (369). In addition, he holds the NHL record among goaltenders for career points (48) and assists (48). During his 19-year NHL career, Barrasso played in 777 career games with six teams (Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes, Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues). The fifth overall pick of the Sabres in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft, Barrasso became the only goaltender to play in the NHL directly from high school. Following his rookie season in 1983-84

     The first American-born player to record three consecutive 50-goal seasons in the National Hockey League (1995-98), John LeClair played 16 years in the NHL and helped the Montreal Canadiens capture the Stanley Cup in 1993. LeClair, who also had stops with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins in his distinguished career, registered 406 goals and 413 assists for 819 points in 967 career games. He currently ranks 13th on the NHL’s all-time points list among American-born players. LeClair had arguably his best years as a member of the "Legion of Doom" line on the Flyers. In 10 seasons (1994-2004), the St. Albans, Vt., native tallied 333 goals and 643 points as a Flyer, good for seventh on the club’s all-time goals and points lists. LeClair broke the 40-goal mark in five consecutive seasons (1995-2000) and finished in the top 10 in league scoring four times (1994-95, 1996-99). A two-time Olympian (1998, 2002), LeClair ranked second on the team and third overall in points at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
     Although he never laced up the skates himself, Frank Zamboni’s legacy lives at nearly every hockey rink in the country. Born in Eureka, Utah, in 1901, Zamboni and his brother, Lawrence, moved to Southern California in 1920. After opening an ice plant for manufacturing block ice, Zamboni envisioned a new way to keep his business open after the growth of the home refrigerator. Along with his brother and cousin, Pete, the trio built a skating rink in 1940 and nine years later, Zamboni received the patent for the world’s first self-propelled ice resurfacing machine. Zamboni brought his machines to the 1960 Olympic Winter Games in Squaw Valley, Calif., and at the 1994 Olympic Winter Games in Lillehammer, Norway, all ice resurfacing machines were Zambonis.

Dick Beardsley Update

      If you’ve followed Grandma’s Marathon through the years….and the history of Minnesota marathoners…you know Dick Beardsley. The 53 year old still holds the Grandma’s course record, set in 1981, and has persevered through some tough times physically, including a total knee replacement in January. He noted in June, while doing radio play-by-play of the 2009 Grandma’s, that his back was sore. On Monday, he sent an update by e-mail from home in Austin, Texas:

     Get this, I have to go in for back surgery! My back has been giving me a lot of problems for the past nine months, so last Friday I went to the doctor, they took X-rays and my L-3 is bone on bone, no space at all! That is the vertebrae right above where I had back fusion in the mid 1990’s. I go in for a MRI on Tuesday and then meet with the doctor on Wednesday to decide the procedure. The doctor said he may be able to fix it through a new procedure that is less invasive and that would have me going again in a much shorter time. I’ve got my fingers crossed! In the meantime I’m running about 50 miles a week and still biking.

Endurance Update

     Duluthians Rod Raymond and Steven Kramer won titles in Saturday’s Paul Bunyan Triathlon in Bemidji, Minn.

     Raymond, 44, led a field of 39 in the long course event in 1 hour, 45 minutes, 35 seconds for a 1.5-kilometer swim, 40K bike and 10K run. Kramer, 37, was first in the sprint course field of 117 in 1:06:18 for a ¼-mile swim, 12.5-mile mike and 5K run.

     r Josh Blankenheim of Duluth was third in a field of 375 in the Chisago Lakes Triathlon sprint distance race Sunday in 1:18:29 for a ¼-mile swim, 17-mile bike and 3.1-mile run in Chisago City, Minn. Jena Ogston of Duluth was eighth in the women’s field in 1:36:03. Two-time defending Brewhouse Triathlon champion David Thompson of St. Paul won the half-ironman race in 3:47:16 for a 1.2-mile swim, 55.4-mile bike and 13.1-mile run in a field of 309.

     Brooks Williams, 26, of Colorado Springs, Colo., who was found in distress near the end of Saturday’s Minnesota Voyageur Trail Ultramarathon 50-Miler in Carlton, was treated and released Sunday at Community Memorial Hospital in Cloquet, a nursing supervisor said. Another runner found Williams suffering from dehydration a half-mile from the finish. Race director Rollie Everson brought Williams to the hospital and said he visited him later Saturday, when Williams was showing improvement.

Mercyhurst: Ready for UMD

      Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pa., a member of Atlantic Hockey, is already looking forward to the 2009-10 season, which includes a matchup with Minnesota Duluth in a holiday tournament in Burlington, Vt. UMD and Mercyhurst will be meeting for the first time. Here’s a Sunday story from the Erie Times-News on the Mercyhurst schedule:

A pair of tournaments and as many as five games against NCAA qualifiers highlight the Mercyhurst College men’s hockey team’s schedule for 2009-10.

Lakers coach Rick Gotkin said the schedule was one of the school’s toughest to date.

"By playing a schedule of this caliber, our players should be ready and battle-tested once conference play rolls around," said Gotkin, whose team finished 22-15-3 last season, including 17-8-3 in Atlantic Hockey Association play.

Mercyhurst will host the Ontario Institute of Technology on Oct. 4 in an exhibition game at the Mercyhurst Ice Center before kicking off the regular season with an eight-game road trip. The Lakers will start their road odyssey in Alaska with the 19th annual Kendall Hockey Classic.

Mercyhurst’s first official home game is set for Nov. 6 against Canisius. The Lakers will take on a pair of 2009 NCAA tournament teams in Air Force on Dec. 11-12 in Colorado Springs, Colo., and first-time opponent Minnesota Duluth in the opening round of the Sheraton-TD Banknorth Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt., on Jan. 2.

Mercyhurst will conclude the Catamount Cup on Jan. 3 and could meet 2009 Frozen Four participant Vermont (which faces Alabama-Huntsville in the first round). On Feb. 5-6, the Lakers will battle perennial WCHA powers Denver and Colorado College. The Pioneers qualified for the NCAA tournament last season, while the Tigers spent most of the year ranked in the top 10.

The Atlantic Hockey Association playoffs will begin March 5.

UPDATE 2: Voyageur 50M, Lumberjack 10M

     Andy Holak of Duluth won a third Minnesota Voyaguer Trail Ultramarathon 50-Miler on Saturday in Carlton, while Helen Lavin of Minneapolis won a second straight women’s title and set a course record. Holak, 41, had his fastest time on the course in nine races in 7 hours, 16 minutes, 28 seconds. Lavin, 32, fifth overall in 8:06:10, breaking Kim Holak’s 2007 mark of 8:14:14. There were 159 entrants.

     Jeremy Polson was first overall and Jen Houck won the women’s division of Saturday’s Lumberjack Days 10-Miler road race in Stillwater, Minn. Both are from Duluth.

     Polson, 31, led a field of 1,121 in 50 minutes, 38 seconds and Brandon Gleason, 23, of Minneapolis was second in 50:43. Houck, 25, won in 57:51, while Serena Sullivan, 28, of Hibbing was fifth in 1:02:02. A male runner used the race number for a female runner (Michelle Tubbs, 22, of St. Paul), who was originally credited with the women’s victory in 55:09.