Golden Gopher junior All-American Chris Rombough smashed the longstanding school record for the fastest time on an 8-kilometer course placing 15th with a time of 23 minutes, 39.7 seconds at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. No. 24 Minnesota defeated three teams ranked higher in the national polls in finishing seventh in the Pre-NCAA Meet White Race.
The previous Minnesota record on an 8K course was held by former Gopher great Dave Morrison for 23 years. Morrison’s record was 23:50.4 clocked at the Wisconsin Duals on Sept. 29, 1984.
Records were falling all over as the LaVern Gibson course record was broken twice, first by the winner of the Blue Race and then by the medalist in the White Race. Interestingly, the record breakers were the Griak Invitational champions in the past two years.
In the Blue Race, Lopez Lmong of Northern Arizona (the 2007 Griak champion) won the race with a time of 23:02.3, which broke the previous course record of 23:12.6 set by Liberty’s Josh McDougal. However that new record would not last long, as McDougal (the 2006 Griak champion) ran to a first-place finish and recaptured possession of his course record with a time of 22:56.4 in the men’s 8k White Race.
“The course was in fantastic shape and very, very fast as evidenced by all the records,” said Minnesota head coach Steve Plasencia. “We traveled down here looking to accomplish some goals as we look to qualify for the NCAAs . We ran well and defeated some teams ahead of us. We should benefit from our performance today.”
The Gophers gathered 289 team points with Rombough and freshman Hassan Mead posting top-20 finishes. Minnesota bettered No. 14 Providence, No. 16 William & Mary and No. 20 Arizona State in the team standings. Texas-El Paso, ranked No. 20 with Arizona State entering the meet, scored 129 points to capture an upset victory. Northern Arizona, the 2007 Griak team champion, won the Blue Race crown with 124 points.
Mead posted a 20th-place finish crossing the finish line in a time of 23:45.0. Completing the scoring for the Gophers were Forrest Tahdooahnippah in 44th place in 24:01.3, Ben Puhl in 94th in 24:25.8 and Mike McFarland in 116th in 24:38.7.
Minnesota’s next competition is Oct. 28 at the Big Ten Conference Championships.