Nov. 17, 2012
The University of Minnesota women’s cross country team wrapped up the season with a 22nd-place finish at the NCAA Championships in Louisville, Ky. It was Gary Wilson’s last meet as the Golden Gophers’ head coach.
The Gophers entered the national meet ranked 25th in the country. At the three-kilometer mark of today’s race, they were unofficially announced to be in about 27th place.
“They ran really well from the 3K on in,” assistant coach Sarah Hesser said. “They ran solid today. At the national meet, if you go in and run solid, you can end up over-performing from where you were expected to finish.”
The Gophers’ No. 1 finisher at the Midwest Regional, Molly Kayfes, was again their leader in Louisville. Kayfes finished 78th with a time of 20 minutes, 37.6 seconds. Hesser said that Kayfes has done a good job maturing as a racer and learning how to strategize, and that experience paid off today. Laura Docherty was next for the Gophers in 107th place with a time of 20:51.1.
Maggie Bollig (128th, 20:59.4), Katie Moraczewski (163rd, 21:13.2), and Ashlie Decker (178th, 21:21.3) completed the scoring for Minnesota. Rachel Drake (196th, 21:30.0) and Liz Berkholtz (214th, 21:37.0) also competed.
Oregon took home the team title, while Iowa State’s Betsy Saina, this year’s Roy Griak Invitational champion, won the individual crown. The Gophers’ 22nd-place finish was five places better than last year’s 27th-place showing.
“The girls did everything we asked them to do,” Hesser said. “I’m looking forward to the next challenge of becoming the head coach next season. We have this whole group of 10 returning, so that’s a good situation to be in.”
Hesser will take over a program that has qualified for the last eight NCAA Championship meets. Wilson will retire after 28 years at the helm, but will remain connected to the program.
“It was a nice way to go out,” Wilson said. “The thing that was so pleasing to me was that these kids were just warriors today. Every single kid just fought like mad. It was a really special day, I feel good about leaving the program with Sarah Hesser and Nikki Swenson. I couldn’t have ended on a better note.”