Two things you should knowLocal runners witness Boston Marathon bombing; Eagle girls get in two games
By: By Mike Granlund, For The Telegram, Superior Telegram
The following is another “Have Fun or Get Out of the Way” column by award-winning Don Leighton and Mike Granlund and their alter egos, Lance Boyle and Billy Pirkola, which runs occasionally in The Superior Telegram.
Local runners escape unharmed
The tragic events at the Boston Marathon last week become more personalized when you discover that two local runners, Shari Olson of Brule, and Judy Willoughby of Lake Nebagamon, were among the 27,000 runners competing in the race.
Willoughby, competing in her third Boston marathon, came upon Olson at the 24-mile mark, passing her like she was standing still. She implored Olson to keep going and finish strong.
Thanks to the encouragement of her good friend, Olson did pick up the pace and finished the race behind Willoughby. Three minutes after she finished, and just as she was receiving her medal and still in the finishing chute, the first bomb blast went off. Had it not been for Willoughby’s encouraging words, Olson may have been very near the first bomb blast.
Willoughby and Olson said the blast itself first shook their insides and they then saw the smoke rising from the blast.
There was real confusion, but people at the finish line proceeded to do their jobs. The race itself was stopped. By the time the second blast went off and people realized what was happening, there was lots of screaming, running and crying.
Chaos and mass confusion ensued. Runners who had not finished were unable to get to their dry clothes. Willoughby’s and Olson’s cell phone calls to their husbands came up empty as all cell phone service had been suspended by the alert security forces.
Their husbands, too, came close to the perilous area as they cheered their wives on at the 25-mile mark and then tried to wend their way toward the finish line.
Eventually the local runners were able to make it to their hotel where Keith Olson and Jon Willoughby greeted them with a big sighs of relief.
The next morning the scene was eerie. The area looked like a ghost town except for the fully-armed police and National Guard forces lining the streets.
For Olson, it was another memorable Boston Marathon. Her first came in 2000 when she ran along with her father, legendary local runner Pat Moreland. She also competed in 2010.
The turmoil continued for Willoughby and Olson when they left Boston. The flight home made the national news. Two suspected “terrorists” were aboard their plane. Two U.S. Marshals checked everyone out as they boarded the plane, questioning two gentlemen (apparently not U.S. citizens) and checking their baggage.
People were allowed to board the plane. However, the plane taxied for a while and then headed back to the gate. The two “suspects” apparently would not turn off their cell phones, continued to text and were counting planes at the airport. An adjoining passenger pushed the call button, resulting on more questioning and finally the escorting away of these individuals, who were met by at least six U.S. Air Marshals. All passengers then had to get off the plane as they “swept” it for safety reasons.
The delay resulted in a missed connecting flight, and the foursome arrived at their destination eight hours later than planned. By the time the quartet arrived back in northern Wisconsin, the whole world was watching the continuing events as they unfolded. Rest assured it is a race they will never forget.
Boyling in the Pirkolater: Olson is the race director for the Pat Moreland 5K Run and Mini Track meet scheduled this year for June 8 at the Northwestern High School track in Maple. Her son, Micah, was named last week to the Superior Telegram’s All-Area Basketball Team. ... Also running in last week's Boston Marathon was Dave Antonson, a Solon Springs native now living in Duluth.
Eagles say "Any time, any place!"
It’s been extremely difficult to get any sports events played this spring due to the weather. However, the Solon Springs girls softball team proved it is not impossible with a doubleheader Saturday.
The Eagles boarded a big yellow bus in the evening and sojourned down to Rosemount, Minn., to the IrishDome, about a half hour south of Minneapolis, to play a midnight game against the Cameron Comets.
As soon as a soccer game ended on the artificial turf, the Eagles took the field at the indoor facility and proceeded to play an “unofficial” game. (This was due to the time limit constraint.) The facility was large enough that two softball games were able to be played at once, with temporary fences installed to demark the areas.
The unofficial game gave Eagles coach Dale Rajala a chance to see his team in action, and he liked what he saw.
Valerie Garay pitched five innings of effective ball and also tripled. Tyler Kruse and Jessica Holderness also had hits as the score was 2-1 for Solon Springs in the shortened exhibition.
In the second game, the Eagles played the Unity Eagles and got three innings in with the score at 5-5 (appropriately as it was Eagles vs. Eagles).
Alicia Jensen and Phoenix Thomas pitched for Solon Springs and Holderness belted a triple.
Rajala was especially impressed with freshman Phoenix Thomas defensively at shortstop.
Rajala praised the facility in Rosemount, noting that it had five batting cages and was comprised mostly of playing field. He also stated that the girls were thrilled to get some playing time in and had a great experience.
The big yellow bus got the players back safely to Solon Springs around 7 a.m. the next day, somehow avoiding the multitude of snowstorms the area has been blessed with.
Boyling in the Pirkolater: Rajala is hoping a doubleheader scheduled for Friday at Prairie Farm will be played. Forecasts are for temperatures in the 60s for that day. It will be the first time the Eagles would be able to play outside. … On a positive weather note, the fire danger in the area remains low.
Opinions and/or story ideas can be e-mailed to Mike Granlund at firstname.lastname@example.org