Blankenship, Gophers Third at Big Ten Championships Blankenship, Gophers Third at Big Ten Championships
Ben Blankenship’s third-place finish paced the Minnesota men’s cross country team to its finest performance of the 2010 season, placing third in the Big Ten Conference Cross Country Championships in Verona, Wis., on Sunday.
Host Wisconsin ran away with its 12th straight team title finishing with all its scorers in the top 12 and tallying 28 points. Indiana was second with 75 points, while the Gophers scored 101 for third. The Badgers hosted the Championships on their new Zimmer Championships Course.
“I’m pleased by our performance today,” said Golden Gopher head coach Steve Plasencia. “The guys carried out our race plan well. Our top six guys just kept moving up throughout the race. We got a great boost from Ben (Blankenship) running at the front.”
Blankenship was part of a leading foursome that broke away in the final two kilometers of the race and battled for the individual title down the stretch. The top four racers finished within a 3-second span with Wisconsin’s Landon Peacock winning in a time of 23 minutes, 40.8 seconds, followed by Indiana’s Andrew Bayer (23:41.3), Blankenship (23:41.4) and Wisconsin’s Mohammed Ahmed (23:42.7). Blankenship garners All-Big Ten First Team accord for his performance.
Senior Mike Torchia earned All-Big Ten Second Team honors with his 14th-place finish. Torchia covered the 8-kilometer course in a time of 24:02.7.
Sophomore Pieter Gagnon was Minnesota’s third finisher, placing 17th in a time of 24:09.6. Another sophomore, Kevin Lachowitzer, was the fourth Gopher to finish, crossing the line in 30th-place in a time of 24:30.7. Redshirt freshman Andrew Larsen completed the scoring for the Gophers, tallying a 37th-place showing in 24:36.4. Larsen was the third freshmen finisher in the meet.
Also competing for the Gophers were Sean Olson, who placed 43rd in 24:47.2; Erik Truedson, who was 52nd in 24:58.4; John Simons in 54th in 25:01.7; and Paul Hilsen, who placed 63rd in 25:13.9.
Minnesota turns its attention to the NCAA Midwest Region Championships on Nov. 13. The race distance for NCAA events increases to 10 kilometers.