Gopher Harriers Travel to Big Ten Championships Gopher Harriers Travel to Big Ten Championships
Golden Gopher Cross Country This Week:
Big Ten Conference Cross County Championships
Sunday, Oct. 31 Women - 10:45 a.m. CT Men - 11:45 a.m. CT Verona, Wis. Zimmer Championship Course
TV Coverage: Big Ten Network Tape-Delayed Broadcast Sunday, Nov. 21 – 11 a.m. CT Golden Gopher Watch List — Oct. 27, 2010 • Minnesota Ready for Big Ten Championships - The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams travel to Verona Wis., for the 2010 Big Ten Conference Cross Country Championships on Sunday, Oct. 31. Wisconsin hosts the event, which is in its 96th year for the men and 30th for the women. The women’s 6-kilometer race begins at 10:45 a.m. (CT) and will be followed by the men’s 8-kilometer race at 11:45 a.m. • BTN Tape Delay - The Big Ten Network will televise the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on a tape-delayed basis airing on Sunday, Nov. 21. • Both Men and Women Third a Year Ago - Both the Minnesota men and women tallied third-place finishes at the Big Ten Championships a year ago. yet later advanced to the NCAA Championships. • Gophers to Watch - Junior Stephanie Price and redshirt freshman Missa Varpness have been the Gophers’ top runners all season on the women’s side. The men are led by a trio of runners in seniors Ben Blankenship and Mike Torchia and sophomore Pieter Gagnon. • Gopher All-American Mead to Miss Season - Gopher senior All-American Hassan Mead will miss the 2010 season due to injury. A three-time All-American, Mead won Big Ten titles in 2008 and 2009.
Big Ten Championships The Minnesota men’s cross country team travels to Verona, Wis., to compete in the 2010 Big Ten Cross Country Championships, hosted by Wisconsin on Sunday, Oct. 31. The 96th running of the Big Ten men’s race begins at 11:45 a.m. (CT, and immediately following the women’s race. The men’s race is the final 8-kilometer event (or in this case approximate 8K distance) of the season, as the distance lengthens to 10 kilometers for NCAA Championships competition.
Big Ten Honors The top seven finishers will be awarded All-Big Ten First-Team honors. Runners placing eighth through 14th will receive second-team All-Big Ten accord.
Minnesota at the Big Ten Meet Minnesota has won four Big Ten men’s cross country titles: 1909, 1914, 1964 and 1969. During head coach Steve Plasencia’s tenure, the Golden Gophers’ top finishes were a second-place finish in 2007 and third-place showings in 1999, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2009. The Gophers have had five runners win Big Ten individual crowns a total of 10 times. Fred Watson (1913-15) and Gary Bjorklund (1969-71) each captured three titles. Leonard Edeleen won the 1957 title, while Chris Rombough won in 2006 and Hassan Mead in 2008 and 2009.
Defending Big Ten Champions Wisconsin is the 11-time defending champion. In fact, only Michigan’s titles in 1993, 1997 and 1998 interrupted the Badgers’ title dominance since 1985.
Big Ten Championships History Nine of the 10 schools, excluding only Penn State, that currently sponsor a men’s cross country program have won at least one Big Ten team title. Wisconsin owns the most with 43, followed by Michigan State with 14 and Indiana with 13. Following is a listing of team champions: Wisconsin: 1910, 12, 13, 15, 24, 25, 26, 27, 39, 44, 45, 46c, 48, 49, 50, 77, 78, 79, 81, 82, 83, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 95, 96, 99, 00, 01, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06, 07, 08, 09 Michigan State: 1951, 52, 53, 55, 56, 57, 58, 59, 60, 62, 63, 68, 70, 71 Indiana: 1928, 29, 30, 31, 32, 39, 40, 42, 46x, 67, 72, 73, 80c Michigan: 1922, 54, 74, 75, 76, 80c, 93, 97, 98 Minnesota: 1909, 14, 64, 69 Illinois: 1921, 47, 84 Purdue: 1916, 41, 43 Iowa: 1961, 66 Northwestern: 1965 Ohio State: 1923 The Golden Gopher Lineup The nine Golden Gophers below will compete at the Big Ten Championships. Following their name is a listing of any previous experience at the Big Ten Championships. Ben Blankenship (Sr., Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater HS/Mississippi State) 2008 - 26th, 25:16.3 2009 - 18th, 25:53.4 Pieter Gagnon (So., Minneapolis, Minn./Washburn HS) 2009 - 27th, 26:09.4 Paul Hilsen (So., Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville South HS) 2009 - 55th, 27:06.2 Kevin Lachowitzer (So., Perham, Minn./Perham HS) 2009 - DNF Andrew Larsen (RFr., Glen Ellyn, Ill./Marmion) Sean Olson (Jr., Menomonie, Wis./Menomonie HS/UW-Milwaukee) 2008 - 32nd, 25:26.3 John Simons (So., Hartland, Wis./Arrowhead) Erik Truedson (RFr., Bemidji, Minn./Bemidji) Mike Torchia (Sr., Rochester, Minn./Lourdes) 2006 - DNF 2008 - 16th, 25:03.3
Mead Out for the Season Minnesota senior Hassan Mead will miss the 2010 cross country season after suffering a collapsed lung during an easy training run in early September. Mead has struggled with injuries over the last year. Mead redshirted the 2010 indoor and outdoor track seasons with an Achilles tendon injury. Mead has one season of cross country and two seasons of track eligibility. Mead is a three-time NCAA cross country All-American and a two-time Big Ten champion (2008 and 2009).
Gophers Fifth in Griak Invitational Minnesota placed fifth in a talented field at the Griak Invitational on Sept. 25. The Gophers looked to a pair of seniors in Ben Blankenship and Mike Torchia to lead the way. Blankenship finished 10th in a time of 24:31.1, while Torchia was 14th in 24:42.4. Sophomore Pieter Gagnon was the third Gopher in the top 20, placing 15th in a time of 24:42.9.
Minnesota Coaching Staff Golden Gopher head coach Steve Plasencia is in his 15th season leading the Minnesota program. Plasencia has guided the Gophers to NCAA Championships berths in 12 of his 14 years with his alma mater with the 2007 eighth-place NCAA finish the Gophers’ best since 1969. Volunteer assistant coach Chris Rombough is in his first year on the Gopher coaching staff after collecting three All-America honors in his Minnesota cross country career.