Kara Goucher achieved a childhood dream last night.
The Duluth East graduate finished second in last night's 10,000 meter final earning her first Olympic team berth.
American record-holder Shalane Flanagan won the race in 31:34.81; Goucher ran 31:37.72. Goucher's Portland, Oregon-based training partner Amy Begley snatched the final Olympic spot kicking to the Olympic A standard time she needed in 31:43.60 for 3rd place.
Team USA Minnesota's Katie McGregor finished 4th in 32:29.82. The Team USA Minnesota runner had an A qualifier which would have put her on the team even with her place, had Begley not achieved the mark herself with a furious kick.
Stanford freshman Alex Gits of Edina did not start the race.
"Of course I wanted to win tonight," an elated Goucher said at the post race media conference. "I'm thrilled with the race. I act like I win -- I've never, ever won. I just live in the moment and I feel amazing right now, I'm psyched."
Goucher was content to follow early leader Magdalena Lewy-Boulet and mid-race leader Begley before launching her own attack with three laps to go. The 2007 World Championships bronze medalist looked strong but didn't have an answer for Flanagan's finish.
"I have wanted to be an Olympian for so long," Goucher said. "This is a childhood dream."
McGregor, finishing in the heartbreak position, might wish the race was only a dream. She's now felt the Trials' snakebite two Olympiads in a row. Still, the 2005 USA 10,000 meter champion tried to keep the result in perspective.
"Coming in, I figured I'd probably make it or just miss it once again," McGregor said. "In 2004, I felt sorry for myself and cried a lot. But I'm not going to do it this time. I'm just going to go into the next one. I came back with a great year in 2005, so hopefully 2009 will be a good one for me."
McGregor let Flanagan, Goucher, and Begley break away mid-race, a decision she reexamined afterward.
"I didn't think I wanted to go with them when they took it initially," she said. "I wanted to be a little conservative and it just didn't work in my favor tonight. I'm not disappinted in myself. Amy Begley ran a great race, you have to hand it to her, she ran an unbelievable race."
Roehrig in 6th After Day 1 … After the first day of heptathlon competition, the University of Minnesota’s Liz Roehrig rests in 6th place with 3598 points. Hyleas Fountain leads the competition with 3989 points. Roehrig is 119 points out of 3rd place.
Roehrig got her day off to a fast start. Assisted by a heptathlon-legal 3.5 meter/second tailwind, the Chilton, Wisconsin native ran a personal-best 14.12, in the 100 meter hurdles, which opened the competition. The mark was worth 961 points.
She survived an early scare in the high jump and weathered some rough jumping overall, to score another 953 points with her 5-10 final clearance. Roehrig needed all three attempts to clear the opening height of 5-5 1/4 and cleared only one of her five successful heights on the first attempt.
“I didn’t get nervous or anything,” the two-time Big Ten Champion said about her make-or-break attempt at the opening height. “High jump was a real struggle today for whatever reason. That’s okay, because [the competition] just goes into the next event."
In the shot put, Roehrig rebounded with a near-PR 43-2 ¼ to finish second in the event and earn 738 points. In the 200m that closed first-day competition, she clocked 24.36 to win her section and finish 4th overall in the event.
Roehrig’s 3598 point total puts her 17 points ahead of the first day score she tallied when she set her PR at the NCAA Championships in Des Moines two weeks ago. There, see scored 5811 points to finish as the runner-up.
Heptathlon Day 1 results are HERE.
Competition concludes tomorrow with the long jump, javelin throw, and 800m run.
Marks, Thieschafer Qualify … Shani Marks jumped a wind-aided 47-0 3/4 to advance to Sunday’s triple jump final as the event’s top qualifier. The four-time USA champion landed the mark, an automatic qualifier for finals, on her first jump and then passed her remaining attempts.
Training partner Amanda Thieschafer jumped a wind-legal 45-1 ¾ on her one-and-only attempt to automatically advance as the #6 jumper. Jumpers need a mark of 44-7 ¼ to advance automatically.
Results for the event are available HERE.
Dorniden, Hermanson Through to Semis … Minnesota collegians Heather Dorniden (U of M) and Laura Hermanson (NDSU) qualified for tomorrow’s 800m semifinal. Running together in the first prelim heat, won by Hazel Clark, Dorniden finished 6th in 2:04.66, with Hermanson a place behind in 2:04.89. Both runners advanced on time.
Dorniden came out of the final turn in position to gain places in the homestretch, but the Gopher all-American couldn’t find a passing gear.
“I didn’t want to play the same game that I tried at nationals, where I tried to take it away early,” she explained. “It all turned out the way it was supposed to up until [the final 200], except you can’t underestimate a field this amazing."
Hermanson was tucked at the back of the field trough the early-going, the field passed the 400, in 62.1, but then found herself in heavy traffic.
“I was hoping to be a little faster, I guess, through the 400,” the Burnesville native said. “I got myself a little boxed in with 350 to go, so I tried to whip out to the side. I think I just waited a little too long to really start try to kick in."
Women’s 800m results are HERE.
Other Minnesotans in the Prelims … Gopher alum Trent Riter did not advance from the 800m prelims. Riter, a finalist in the USA Championships last year but hectored by injuries this year, ran 1:49.13 for 7th in his heat.
Team USA Minnesota’s Matt Gabrielson sneaked into the 5000m final with a 14:00.92, 8th place finish in the first heat of the event.
“The last thousand was tough; I was dying the last 300, Gabrielson said before he knew he had advanced. “I’m sure [the final] will be fast. Just hang on for dear life, if I make that final. I just pray to the good Lord that I make that final."
Teammate Andrew Carlson, and Gopher freshman Hassan Mead didn’t advance from the same heat -- Mead ran 14:07.44, Carlson ran 14:13.78 ....
Bemidji State Joe Remitz finished a non-advancing 24th in the shot put prelims with 59-0.
Photo of Liz Roehrig by Sean Hartnett.