The Minnesota men’s cross country team placed third at the Aztec Invitational, hosted by San Diego State at Balboa Park in San Diego on Saturday. Sophomore Mike Torchia paced the Golden Gophers with a 12th-place finish, covering the 8-kilometer course in a time of 25 minutes, 19 seconds.
Minnesota competed without its top two runners, All-Americans Chris Rombough and Hassan Mead. The Gophers’ powerful one-two punch will make their season debut in two weeks at the Roy Griak Invitational.
Sophomore Mike McFarland added a top-20 showing for the Gophers, finishing 19th with a time of 25:35. A pair of Gophers running their first meet for the Maroon and Gold followed with sophomore transfer Ben Blankenship finishing 21st in 25:39 and redshirt freshman Sean Olson in 23rd in 25:40. Senior Ben Puhl completed the Gopher scoring in 36th place in 25:57.
Also competing for the Gophers were Ben Kampf, who placed 40th (26:02), Paul Hilsen, who finished 54th (26:13) and Tim Bruhn, who finished 92nd (26:57).
“We are in a good position to keep progressing,” said Golden Gopher head coach Steve Plasencia. “We started to establish a bit of an order in competing for out top spots on the team.”
Brigham Young cruised to the team title with 32 points, claiming four places in the top 10. Northern Arizona was second with 96. Azusa Pacific’s Aron Rono won medalist honors with a time of 24:16.