The Wright Call

By Dave Wright

Fall is a busy time for many Minnesotans, with lots of football and soccer games to watch or play, cabins to shut down for the winter, and the last of summer-like weather to enjoy. However, it’s fair to guess that nobody had as busy a first weekend of October as 31-year-old Summit Hill native Danny Docherty.

All Docherty did in a span of roughly 48 hours was win three races covering a total of 19.3 miles during the Twin Cities Marathon weekend and take part in all the festivities of his sister Laura’s wedding.

The hectic docket started on Friday, October 1. Docherty dutifully attended the pre-wedding dinner, but checked out a little earlier than most since he had a busy Saturday planned. At 7:15 the next morning, he laced up his shoes and was off and running with 1,407 other early risers for the first event of the weekend—the 10K (6.2 miles).

“The pace was easy,” Docherty said. “I got into a rhythm and just ran.” In fact, he ran away from the field, finishing in 31:57, more than two minutes ahead of the second-place runner.

Docherty, who had started running as a kindergartner at Saint Luke’s School during a fundraiser (“I think I ran a lap,” he said), rested for an hour, then lined up with 1,219 other runners for the 5K (3.1 miles). Docherty breezed to victory in that race as well. His time of 15:07 was nearly two minutes faster than anyone else.

“I was done by 9 a.m.,” he said. “Plenty of time to get ready for the wedding.”

Although he had run the Twin Cities Marathon before, Docherty opted for the TC 10 Mile on October 3 along with 2,341 other men and 4,167 women. “I was worried a bit about that one,” he said. “I knew it would be more competitive and I was out to win it.”

The wedding went smoothly, with Docherty serving as an usher. He chowed down on pulled pork at the reception, but excused himself early again to get to bed by 10 p.m. He had a big task on his plate on Sunday.

Although he had run the Twin Cities Marathon before, Docherty opted for the TC 10 Mile on October 3 along with 2,341 other men and 4,167 women. “I was worried a bit about that one,” he said. “I knew it would be more competitive and I was out to win it.”

Thirty-one doesn’t seem so old, but age can become a factor as the length of a race expands. Of the top 12 finishers in the TC 10 Mile, 10 were ages 24-28.

Unlike a lot of runners, Docherty took off not wearing headphones. “It’s more meditative for me,” he said. “I just let my thoughts flow. ”

Danny Docherty
Danny Docherty

Docherty, who was a top distance runner at Cretin-Derham Hall and later for a conference championship team at Loyola University Chicago, is a competitive sort. When push came to shove, he stepped on the gas, winning the 10 Mile in a time of 49:19—the fastest time recorded in the past seven years. It was nearly an hour ahead of the average running time of 1:40 and 41 seconds better than the runner-up. All of which pleased Docherty and his running mates with the Saint Paul-based El-Jefe running group.

What did Docherty’s body feel like after completing the three wins? “My feet hurt a bit,” he said. After a brief respite, Docherty will lace up his shoes and run a 10K race in Florida in mid-November. 

With the busy weekend behind him, Docherty, who majored in English and psychology at Loyola, buckled down to work on what he needs to earn his master’s in sports and exercise science at the University of Minnesota. He also spends time as director of operations for track and baseball for the Highland Groveland Recreation Association and is an assistant cross-country coach at DeLaSalle High School. Next spring, he’ll be back as an assistant track and field coach at Visitation School.

Expectations are in the mind of the beholder 

P.J. Fleck and Glenn Caruso, who coach the only two Division I football teams in Minnesota, share something else in common: Both are irrepressibly optimistic, even when faced with a losing effort. Both the universities of Minnesota and Saint Thomas were 2-2 as of this writing, but the reactions of their fans to those records were decidedly different. 

Fleck’s followers were not too disturbed by a season-opening loss to Ohio State. After all, the Gophers scored 31 points against a highly touted foe. The loss of the team’s top running back to a season-ending injury dampened a few spirits, but the effervescent Fleck promised better things to come. So the believers believed. A 30-0 road win at Colorado helped foster the belief that all was right in Gopherville.

With Bowling Green coming in for the U of M’s homecoming, everybody was ready to party hardy. However, the Falcons spoiled the fun with a solid defensive effort that throttled the Gophers at every turn. A 31-point favorite ended up on the short end of the stick and there were suddenly a lot fewer people rowing the boat.

In football, however, one game’s nightmare can easily be erased by success the following week. So it was that the Gophers went to Purdue, got a late interception to snuff out a final threat, and came home with a conference win. With a week off to refresh the troops, hopes are now high again. They will stay that way at least until October 16—the next scheduled game.

Caruso is charged with leading Saint Thomas out of Division III and into the limelight playing with the big boys. A season-opening win at Michigan Tech drew happy headlines. Sure, the new D-I team only managed 12 points against a mediocre D-II school, but it was a win nonetheless. The next game was a 44-3 loss at Northern Iowa, but it was spun as a positive with Caruso maintaining that he was “wildly proud of our defense.” The first half ended with UST down 17-3. Giving up 27 second-half points without scoring any of its own was glossed over because…well…Northern Iowa is very good.

A decisive victory at home over Butler brought unbridled joy. The fact that the Bulldogs haven’t had a winning season since 2013 didn’t matter. The Tommies then stood toe to toe for some time at San Diego before losing 27-24. The Toreros had won the previous five Pioneer League titles. Thus, this negative could be also viewed as a positive. What was not noted was that it was San Diego’s first win in 2021.

If the Gophers finish with a .500 record, there’ll be considerable moaning and groaning. If the Tommies finish at .500, there could well be a parade down Summit Avenue. It’s all of matter of expectations.

Dave Wright can be reached at dwright53@msn.com.

COMMENTS TERMS OF SERVICE

The Villager welcomes comments from readers. Please include your full name and the neighborhood in which you live. Be respectful of others and stay on topic. We reserve the right to remove any comment we deem to be profane, rude, insulting or hateful. Comments will be reviewed before being published.

Leave a Reply