The Minnesota men's cross country team runs its first meet in three weeks on Saturday, when the Golden Gophers travel to Waterloo, Iowa, to compete in the Pre-NCAA Meet. The 8-kilometer race will be run on the Warren Memorial Golf Course and hosted by Northern Iowa.
The Pre-NCAA Meet gives teams an opportunity to race on the course used for the NCAA Championships in November. The Pre-NCAA race distance, however, is 8-kilometers, not the 10-kilometers that will be run at the NCAAs.
The field is truly an impressive one as 24 of 30 nationally ranked teams will compete, including top-ranked and defending national champion Stanford. Also entered are all 11 teams, including Minnesota, that received votes in this week's national poll.
The 73 teams are split into two races, the Purple Race and the Gold Race. The strength of the field in each race is basically equal. Minnesota will compete in the Purple Race, which gets underway at 11 a.m.
Teams are allowed to bring 12 runners to the meet but can only enter seven runners in the Purple or Gold Race. The remaining runners will compete in an Open Race at 1:35 p.m.
Leading the Gophers
Junior Erik Grumstrup has been Minnesota's top finisher in both races this season. Minnesota's 2002 all-region performers Ryan Malmin and Ryan Ford will also need to charge to the front of the pack for the Gophers to be successful. Senior Luke Mullranin could also figure in the mix after crossing the finish line in the number two position for the Gophers at the Griak Invitational. Another runner who has been impressive early this season has been redshirt freshman Antonio Vega. Vega was the third Gopher finisher at the Griak.
Carlson Still Out of Action
Senior All-American and team captain Andrew Carlson remains on the sidelines with a hip injury. His return is indefinite.