BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (GopherSports.com) – The University of Minnesota men’s cross country program opened the 2017 campaign on Saturday morning with a second-place finish at the Indiana Open as three Gophers finished in the top 10.
Behind top-10 performances from Charlie Lawrence, Evan Ferlic and Connor Olson, the Maroon & Gold totaled 50 points in the eight-kilometer race – trailing only host-institution Indiana at 21 points in the team standings. Miami (OH) finished third with 60 points followed by Ohio State with 94 and Wisconsin with 140.
“Coming out of camp and a hard seven days of training, I thought we had a pretty good performance today in Indiana,” Minnesota Director of Men’s Track & Field and Cross Country Steve Plasencia said. “Our trio of top-10 finishers did a nice job to lead the way, and I was pleased with the way a lot of our younger guys competed. Overall, it was a promising performance for what’s coming up this year.”
Saturday’s race at the IU Championship Cross Country Course served as a preview for this year’s Big Ten cross country championships, slated for Oct. 29.
“Today was an excellent opportunity to get a look at this course – it’s a rugged, tough course,” Plasencia said. “I’m glad our guys had a chance to see it and try it out ahead of the conference meet.”
The Gophers were led by two-time team captain and Second Team All-Big Ten finisher Charlie Lawrence, who tied his career-best finish with a fifth-place performance in the season opener. The redshirt senior ran a 25:07.9 to pace the Gophers and finish as the top visiting competitor overall after four Indiana runners.
“It was nice to get out and compete finally and to get a feel for the course. Obviously, we’re going to see it again this year,” Lawrence said “It’s a hard course – it’s deceptively challenging. The middle kilometers are really tough, and we have to stay mentally engaged. Now it’s time to get home and start looking forward to a couple guys running at the Oz and then we have the big one at the end of the month. Everyone’s excited for the Griak on Sept. 23.”
Ferlic finished one spot behind Lawrence in sixth place with the redshirt sophomore clocking a new personal record for an eight-kilometer course at 25:08.0 – knocking more than 20 seconds off his previous best. Olson came in ninth for the redshirt sophomore’s best official finish with the Gophers at 25:14.5. The Second Team All-Big Ten honoree posted several top-10 finishes as an unattached competitor in 2015.
Minnesota rounded out its team scoring with a 14th-place showing from redshirt freshman Alec Basten at 25:36.2 and a 16th-place finish from redshirt sophomore Joey Duerr at 25:45.2. Basten clocked a new personal eight-kilometer record in his first official race as a Gopher while Duerr’s 16th-place showing stands as his best official finish with the Gophers.
In their Gophers debut, Nick Rink and Alex Plasencia turned in new personal eight-kilometer records on Saturday. Rink finished one spot behind Duerr in 17th at 25:46.2 while Plasencia finished 25th at 26:04.1. Derek Wiebke came through the finish line in 26:06.0 to place 26th. Shane Streich placed 38th with a time of 26:31.2. Hamza Ali (41st, 26:39.9) and Owen Hoeft (42nd, 26:40.6) also made their first official appearances for the Gophers after redshirting last season.
Minnesota returns to action with its first home event on Friday, Sept. 8 with the Oz Memorial at Les Bolstad Golf Course in Falcon Heights, Minn. The men’s four-mile race is slated for 7 p.m. CT.
Gopher Cross Country Performances
5) Charlie Lawrence (25:07.9)
6) Evan Ferlic (25:08.0)
9) Connor Olson (25:14.5)
14) Alec Basten (25:36.2)
16) Joey Duerr (25:45.2)
17) Nick Rink (25:46.2)
25) Alex Plasencia (26:04.1)
26) Derek Wiebke (26:06.0)
38) Shane Streich (26:31.2)
41) Hamza Ali (26:39.9)
42) Owen Hoeft (26:40.6)
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