Medtronic TC 1 Mile record-holder Ben Blankenship, a 2016 Olympian from Stillwater, and the man whose mark he eclipsed last year, Olympic silver and bronze medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand, are set to race on the streets of Minneapolis on Thursday evening in this year’s race.

They headline the professional fields racing for a $25,000 prize purse and a pair of $10,000 event record bonuses.

Former U.S. champion Gabriele Grunewald of Minneapolis is entered in the women’s race, which also includes 2016 runner-up Christy Cazzola.

Last year in a runaway 3:55.8 effort, Blankenship trimmed three-tenths of a second off Willis’ event record set in 2013. The two last met in the Olympic 1500-meter final in Rio, where Willis finished third and Blankenship eighth.

Winona native Garrett Heath, the 2015 Medtronic TC 1 Mile champion and the runner with the third-fastest time in the event’s history, is also in the field.

The event, expected to draw more than 2,500 runners for seven races, will start near the Mill City Museum and end near the Guthrie Theater.

Gophers to open at UMD rink

The Gophers men’s hockey team will open its season with the Ice Breaker Tournament in Duluth. Minnesota will host UMD in the opening round. Union and Michigan Tech are the other two teams in the field.

Among the schedule highlights:

• The Gophers play at North Dakota on Oct. 20-21 for the first time since 2012.

• The first Big Ten series with Notre Dame, away on Nov. 24-25.

• The Mariucci Classic will not be held because scheduling conflicts kept Minnesota from filling the four-team field.

• The Gophers will play Michigan State on Jan. 20 at Madison Square Garden.

• The conference tournament will be played at the higher seeds throughout, with best-of-three quarterfinals (March 2-4), and single games for the semifinals (March 10) and the championship (March 17).


• The WCHA released its full season schedule, with the conference season beginning Oct. 13 and concluding with the on-campus Battle for the Broadmoor tournament championship on March 17.

• The Gophers’ Justin Doeden, a senior golfer from Prior Lake, will compete at the NCAA Stanford Regional from May 15-17.

• Junior Caroline Ryba of the Gophers was named to the Big Ten women’s all-conference tennis team.

• Brad Swenby was named an assistant coach with the Gophers women’s soccer team. He was an assistant coach and goalkeeper coach at Indiana the past three years.

• Union senior outfielder Kent Curran of Eden Prairie was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America’s All-District 3 academic first team for the third consecutive season.