LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The Golden Gopher women's cross country team returned to the NCAA Cross Country Championship after a one-year hiatus and earned a 19th-place team finish led by Bethany Hasz, Megan Hasz, and Madeline Strandemo at E.P. 'Tom' Sawyer State Park Saturday morning.
Six of Minnesota's seven runners made their debuts at the NCAA meet with Strandemo returning as the team's lone veteran. In their NCAA debuts, B. Hasz placed 70th in 20:29.32 followed by M. Hasz in 74th (20:31.01), and Strandemo placed 83rd (20:35.74) as Minnesota's third runner.
Bailey Ness (21:32.56 in 195th) and Courtney Alama (21:34.77 in 199th) were among the top-200 overall finishers to complete the Gophers' scoring finishes in 159th and 162nd in the team race.
"We went after it. We put our noses in there and were in 12th at the 2K. The team did everything I asked them to do, which was stick their noses in there," head coach Sarah Hopkins said. "We had three up in the top 60 to start... we just kind-of got in a little over our head. I'll have to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out why, but I was really, really proud of the battle. Even though it wasn't going perfectly, everyone kept fighting all the way through."
The Gophers scored 488 points to place 19th in the team standings. New Mexico won the team title with 90 points followed by runner-up San Francisco with 105 points, and Colorado (139), Stanford (165), and Oregon (203) rounded out the top five.
Elyse Prescott (21:46.40) and Abby Kohut-Jackson (22:02.27) also gained valuable NCAA Championship experience as Minnesota's sixth and seventh finishers.
"Would we have loved to be in the top 10, absolutely, but we were second in the Big Ten and we were the best team from the Midwest here today," Hopkins said. "Still a top-20 finish and lots of good experience for a bunch of people coming back next year."
Facing windy conditions but mild temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, the Gophers made their 12th NCAA appearance in the last 13 years. Minnesota advanced to 11-straight NCAA Championships from 2005 to 2015. Last year, Strandemo represented the Maroon & Gold as an at-large individual qualifier and placed 51st overall.
"Maddie had great experience here the last two years and has been our queen bee all year and led this group," Hopkins said. "I'm disappointed for her because I know she was ready to be an All-American today and just fell a little bit short. For her last opportunity, it's a bummer but she's done everything for this team and laid it all on the line."
With the conclusion of the cross country season, Minnesota now looks ahead to the 2017-18 track & field season, which is scheduled to begin with select student-athletes getting an early start at the South Dakota State Holiday Invite in Brookings, S.D., on Friday, Dec. 1.
Gophers at the NCAA Championship
70. Bethany Hasz, 20:29.32 (50th)
74. Megan Hasz, 20:31.01 (54th)
83. Madeline Strandemo, 20:35.74 (62nd)
195. Bailey Ness, 21:32.56 (159th)
199. Courtney Alama, 21:34.77 (163rd)
214. Elyse Prescott, 21:46.40
231. Abby Kohut-Jackson, 22:02.27
— Minnesota W TrackCC (@GopherWCCTF) November 18, 2017
Gophers Hand Out Annual Team Awards
12/11/2017 - W. Cross Country
Madeline Strandemo, Bethany Hasz, and Megan Hasz were named co-MVPs of the Gophers' 2017 season.
B1G Recognizes 95 Gophers For Academics
12/6/2017 - W. Cross Country
Ninety-five University of Minnesota student-athletes have earned Academic All-Big Ten honors, announced Wednesday by the conference office.
2017 Cross Country Season in Review
11/25/2017 - W. Cross Country
Minnesota wrapped up the 2017 cross country season with a 19th-place finish at the NCAA Championship.