Oct. 4, 2013
EAU CLAIRE, Wis. – Redshirt freshmen Haley Johnson and Taylor Mikkalson each recorded career-best times to lead the Gopher women's cross country team to a first-place finish at the Blugold Invitational at Whitetail Golf Course Friday evening. Minnesota posted a team score of 44 led by Johnson's fourth-place finish.
Johnson recorded a 6K time of 22:09.10, marking her second-straight career-best outing. The Plymouth, Wis., native took over 10 seconds off her Griak time to lead Minnesota. Meanwhile, Mikkalson also bettered a career-best mark from the Griak, taking sixth in 22:17.02 and cutting 38 seconds off her time from last week.
"Haley Johnson is really coming around, and so is Taylor Mikkalson," head coach Sarah Hopkins said. "It's fun to see them start to come into their own a little bit, take some chances, and realize how good they are."
The trio of senior Cassy Opitz (22:37.34), senior Katie Hill (22:38.06) and sophomore Hannah Trasser (22:40.28) rounded out the Gophers' top five. Opitz came in 10th in the team standings (14th overall) with Hill on her heels in 11th (15th overall). Trasser was amid the pack as well, taking 13th place (17th overall).
"A lot of people ran really well," Hopkins said. "They put themselves up in the mix, and I know people ran a little more aggressively than they're used to just because they're able to be a little farther up in the field, which is great. Overall, it was a really solid day for them."
UW-La Crosse (94 points), St. Olaf (105), Winona State (124) and Carleton College (133) rounded out the top five in the team standings. Luther's Tricia Serres claimed the individual crown in 21:47.50. Athletes from 25 different teams competed in the meet.
Gopher runners also raced at the SDSU Classic in Brookings, S.D., tonight. Up next for Minnesota is the Wisconsin adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., and the Tori Neubauer Invite in La Crosse, Wis., both on Saturday, Oct. 19.
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The Gophers host the 31st annual Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Course on Saturday.