hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


December 13, 2012

50 marathons in 50 states

A small college like Northern Essex is certainly turning out some mighty gigantic athletes.

So what if it’s a community college, located in a remote section of our fair city? Many citizens have never been there, let alone know its whereabouts. Could the same be true of Whittier’s Birthplace, Winnekenni Castle, and Rocks Village? You be the judge.

Some years back when I was writing sports at the Gazette, they spoke of a pitching sensation on the baseball team who had a major league fastball. Wait a minute! How good could this guy really be? And if he were so phenomenal, what was he doing at a school like Northern Essex Community College and not Miami, Rollins, Stanford or some other baseball institution? And why wasn’t he already in the Red Sox farm system?

I dropped by one afternoon and saw this guy throwing 95 mph bullets. He seemed like the real deal, except for one thing. He had trouble finding the plate.

It didn’t take him long. Steve Bedrosian graduated from NECC, proceeded to a calibrated baseball college, got drafted, and won a coveted Cy Young Award precisely 25 years ago while pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies after a star-studded for the Atlanta Braves. Enough said!

Now, along comes another athlete worthy of accolades. His name happens to be Michael Goolkasian who lives in nearby Ipswich, has Northern Essex roots and is quite familiar to the running community around these parts. Ironically, he, too, is of Armenian-American extraction.

If there were a Hall of Fame, Goolkasian would be a worthy candidate. Not because he has run a marathon in each of the 50 states or is looking to conquer all seven continents. Not because he has completed 164 marathons in all or 350 races throughout a storied career dating back three-plus decades.

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