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Winners make tracks

Goucher settles in to new home; UP’s Cox has graduated, moved on
by: L.E. BASKOW, An Oregonian since 2004, Kara Goucher says moving to the state reinvigorated the running careers of her and her husband, Adam.

In accepting the Harry Glickman female professional athlete of the year trophy at the Oregon Sports Awards, distance runner Kara Goucher thanked the state for welcoming her with open arms. “It’s the first time I’ve been recognized as an Oregonian,” she told the crowd Sunday at the Tiger Woods Center at the Nike Inc. headquarters in Beaverton. Goucher and her distance-runner husband, Adam, moved to Oregon in October 2004 to train with Alberto Salazar and the Nike Oregon Project club. The move reinvigorated their careers, the Gouchers say, and they found their home at the same time. They live in the Forest Heights neighborhood, conveniently “right by the Starbucks,” she says. “I’m an Oregonian now,” Goucher says. “My husband and I love it here.” Goucher was one of two highly successful women — and Olympic hopefuls — feted during the show. Stephanie Cox (formerly Lopez) was honored with the Hayward Award for top female amateur athlete. In 2007, she helped the U.S. soccer team place third in the Women’s World Cup and then concluded her career with the University of Portland team. Goucher, 29, won three NCAA titles at Colorado and made the 5,000-meter Olympic Trials finals — all in 2000. But various injuries slowed her, and she and her husband sought out Salazar for help. “Let’s give it one more shot,” she remembers them saying. In 2006, she placed second in the 5,000 at the USA outdoor track and field meet and ran the second-fastest 10,000 meters ever by an American woman at Helsinki — 31 minutes, 17.13 seconds. In 2007, she placed third in the 10,000 at the IAAF World Championships (32:02.05), the only U.S. woman to ever medal in the 10,000. Later in the year, she set the American best in the half-marathon in England’s Great North Run (1 hour, 6 minutes, 57 seconds). She’ll concentrate on the 10,000 at the 2008 Olympic Trials in Eugene while also trying to make the U.S. team in the 5,000. After Beijing, she plans to try for the London Olympics in 2012. The Gouchers lived in Boulder, Colo., before moving to Portland. Kara Goucher grew up in Duluth, Minn. “It was a combination of a change of scenery, working with Dr. Justin Whittaker (for performance and wellness), and Alberto’s an amazing coach,” Kara Goucher says. “And the whole community here (at Nike) is amazing.” Being married to another runner helps — it’s kind of like two Hollywood actors being together. “He understands everything,” she says. “It’s awesome. We’re around each other all the time, same coaches, same workouts — we’ll warm up and cool down together, but as far as an actual workout, there’s no way I could keep up with him.” Indeed, Adam Goucher, 32, made the 2000 Olympics in the 5,000, and only a heel injury prevented him from going in 2004. He is seeking to make this year’s U.S. team in the 5,000, and possibly the 10,000. Cox, 21, hopes to make the Olympics after qualifying games with the U.S. team in April. The U.S. women, coming off a 3-0 record in a China tournament, attend camps in Los Angeles and play in Portugal in March to prepare for qualifying. The team, now coached by Pia Sundhage, beat the Chinese 1-0 recently. “It’s an honor to play for your country,” says Cox, who is from Sacramento, Calif., and now lives in Gig Harbor, Wash., with her husband of only a few weeks, Brian, who played baseball at UP. Cox started every World Cup game at defender. She says Sundhage’s philosophy fits her strengths. “We’ll be a lot different (U.S.) team because of it,” she says. Her UP career ended in the NCAA quarterfinals against UCLA, but she was part of the school’s 2005 title. “Every time you lose it breaks your heart,” Cox says. “It was a tough fall, losing in the World Cup and the Pilots not continuing on.” This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.