Jan. 11, 2012
Heading into the track season, the Gopher women distance runners will have high expectations for the youngsters. Just like in cross country the group will be full of young runners, but young talented runners.
Looking at the mid-distance runners Minnesota will be working with Maggie Bollig and Cassy Opitz in the mile run. Both of these Gophers ran at the Big Ten meet a year ago and should provide solid depth. Missa Varpness will be the other name to look out for along with Kathryn Ritter and Heather Brunn. Freshman Lauren Domski, Andi Zeman and Anne Ferguson could also me in the mix of things in these races.
Distance coach Sarah Hesser admits there are a lot of young runners, but they do have the experience and will be expected to perform at a high level.
“Everyone that we send to the Big Ten conference meet is expected to score points,” Hesser said. “They all have the ability to score and we have people that have been there before.”
No surprise senior Stephanie Price will be at the top of the group heading the long distance races such as the 3,000 and 5,000 meters, but then you throw in Laura Docherty, Ashlie Decker, Katie Moraczewski and Annie Talajkowski, you then have some strong depth in the lineup.
“We are going to be very deep in the 3,000 and 5,000,” Hesser said. “Steph was really close to making it to NCAA’s last year in the 3,000. We are excited about the depth we have.”
Redshirt freshman Molly Kayfes, who had a very successful fall in cross country will also add depth in the long distance races. Hesser said it will be her first real track test this season.
A couple of wildcard names Hesser threw into the mix of things are freshman Liz Berkholtz, Katie Bucknam and Kaila Urick.
Overall this year’s group has the ability to do some heavy damage in the Big Ten Conference. The conference is full of talent and is very competitive, but this group has the weapons to score points.
“What is special about this group is they have a whole lot of potential,” Hesser said. “They still have no idea what kind of damage they are capable of doing.”
Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks to see what kind of damage this group can do. Minnesota host the Northwest Open on Saturday at the UM Fieldhouse.