Our view: Accomplishments lost amid horrible newsA couple stories of Northland athletic accomplishment deserved love and praise but largely went overlooked.
In all the horrific news last week — including the Boston bombings, the fertilizer plant explosion in Texas, the snowboarder-killing avalanche in Colorado, and our never-ending winter (OK, that one’s actually pouring over into this week) — a couple stories of Northland athletic accomplishment deserved love and praise but largely went overlooked.
The first came from the same Boston Marathon finish line that produced such horror. Hours before the bombs detonated, Duluth native Kara Goucher finished sixth among women entered in this latest installment of the nation’s oldest foot race. She posted a time of 2 hours, 28 minutes, 11 seconds.
Though her time and place weren’t what the successful and always-competitive Goucher hoped for — supporters spoke of her winning after she placed third and fifth previously, posting faster times than she did this year — finishing in the top 10 of such a major international race has to be seen as a terrific accomplishment. Plus, no one older than Goucher, who’s 34, finished ahead of her.
Goucher has been doing the Northland proud for many years, including at the Olympics. Last week she gave her hometown and home state only more reason to puff up our chests with pride at all she has accomplished.
“I felt I didn’t make any mistakes and ran a good, smart race,” Goucher told the Northland’s News Center this weekend while back home. “Unfortunately, I’ve had some injuries since the Olympics. I had an injury about six weeks ago that I got after a massage. It was kind of a fluky thing, but it cost me some training. … Had I been a bit more fit, it could have been better.”
And will be better. Next Boston Marathon. Or at the U.S. Nationals. Or at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
The second story that didn’t get its due because of the unusual news was Hermantown native Drew LeBlanc’s rise to the top of college hockey. Not only did LeBlanc’s St. Cloud State University team skate to the Frozen Four for the first time in the school’s history, LeBlanc was named winner of the 33rd Hobey Baker Memorial Award, which goes to the top player in Division I. The same day, the 23-year-old signed a contract to play professionally for the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks.
LeBlanc added his name to Northeastern Minnesotans who’ve nabbed college hockey’s greatest individual honor. The University of Minnesota Duluth’s Jack Connolly of Duluth won the award a year ago. UMD’s Chris Marinucci of Grand Rapids won it in 1994. And the University of Minnesota’s Robb Stauber of Duluth won it in 1988.
“To keep (the award) in the Duluth area is pretty special,” LeBlanc told the St. Cloud Times. “It’s really an honor to represent them, the Hermantown community, the university and everything it stands for, and I’m just very blessed and humbled.”
All the Northland can feel the same way.