Nov. 15, 2013
AMES, Iowa - Junior Molly Kayfes ran a career-best 20:20.9 as the individual runner-up to lead the No. 16 Minnesota women's cross country team to a second-place team finish at the 2013 NCAA Midwest Regional at the Iowa State Cross Country Course Friday afternoon.
With their runner-up team showing, the Golden Gophers earned one of the region's two automatic qualifications to the 2013 NCAA Championship, set for next weekend in Terra Haute, Ind. Minnesota will make its ninth-straight national championship appearance.
"To be top two and be able to walk away and know we have that bid lined up is a nice feeling," head coach Sarah Hopkins said. "We're pleased with it, and we had some really solid performances along the way."
Kayfes and seniors Maggie Bollig and Laura Docherty led Minnesota with top 10 finishes in nearly perfect race weather for late November in the Midwest. Under overcast skies, four Gophers had season-best times on the fast, looped 6K course.
"Molly ran just about the most perfect race," Hopkins said. "In the first 2K, she and Maggie Bollig were running together, and they were probably in the top 15, but certainly not in the top 5. She just really kept her poise and kept her trust in herself and started moving up after 3K.
"She was in a perfect pack with about 1K to go. You could tell she was feeling pretty comfortable in that pack... At that point, she could have been anywhere from second to seventh pretty easily. Coming up the last long straight-away, she was the last one to kick. I think everybody else was pressing, and she was just calm and relaxed. With 100 meters to go, she took off and ended up getting four seconds on that group."
Along with Kayfes' gritty performance, Bollig crushed her previous personal best, taking over 20 seconds off her time of 20:56 from the Wisconsin adidas Invitational earlier this season. Her career-best 20:35.4 landed her in eighth place with Docherty on her heels in ninth in a season-best 20:37.3.
"A lot of people had really solid days," Hopkins said. "It was a huge break-through race for Maggie Bollig to be eighth. She really just kept her composure and kept fighting hard through the whole thing and looked really strong at the end.
"Docherty got herself out maybe a little too crisp and was out ahead of those guys and faded a little bit at the end but still held strong. Last year she was 13th at this meet, so to be ninth this year, she's still improving. And, all in all, Katie Moraczewski had a nice little bounce-back race."
Kayfes, Bollig, Docherty, Dyson and Moraczewski all earned all-region honors with their top-25 finishes.
Iowa State won the meet, led by individual champion Crystal Nelson in 20:12.6. The host Cyclones posted a team score of 39, followed by Minnesota (59), Oklahoma State (192), Southern Illinois (217) and Kansas (218) in the top five.
The 2013 NCAA Championships will be hosted by Indiana State. This year marks the tenth time the nation's top 31 teams will compete for a national title in Terre Haute, Ind. The men's 10K race is set to begin at noon with the women's 6K race to follow on Saturday, Nov. 23.
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Running to the Runway
Gophers distance runner Sarah Klecker designed a running-inspired clothing line for her senior capstone project in the College of Design.
Warm-Up Lap: Q&A with Madeline Strandemo
Catch up with Gophers co-captain Madeline Strandemo after she ran the second-fastest mile in program history last weekend.