Feb. 11, 2014
By Ben Gotz, Athletic Communications Student Assistant
MINNEAPOLIS - After a successful 2013 season, the Gopher women's cross country team handed out its team awards to the athletes that made that success happen. Minnesota celebrated the 2013 season at its annual banquet in January.
"Overall, it was a great year," head coach Sarah Hopkins said. "Really not a lot to be disappointed about."
The Gophers made their ninth-consecutive NCAA championship appearance, and had their best finishes in the Big Ten, Midwest regional and NCAA championship since 2009.
Minnesota gave out 10 different awards to 14 members of the team, all listed below along with their contributions in the 2013 season:
MVP - Laura Docherty
Senior captain Laura Docherty was honored with the Team MVP award after a great finish to her Gopher career. Docherty was first team All-Big Ten her senior year and was the Gophers top runner at four different meets. Docherty capped off her season by finishing 61st overall at the NCAA Championships, the first top-100 finish of her career.
Rookie of the Year - Haley Johnson
Haley Johnson was named the team's Rookie of the Year after stepping up as a contributor in her redshirt freshman season. Johnson was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team and was the Gophers top finisher at three different meets. Johnson also earned a varsity letter in her first season running for the Gophers.
Comeback of the Year - Kait Mincke
Senior Kaitlin Mincke earned the Comeback of the Year Award after a breakout final season. Mincke earned a place on the Gophers' NCAA championship team for the first time in her career and ran a personal best 21:21 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. She was honored with the 2013 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award and named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team.
Tough as Nails - Molly Kayfes
Hopkins describes her Tough as Nails award winners as athletes who "even on a bad day, are going to give you everything they've got." This year, the award went to junior Molly Kayfes. Kayfes ran in seven meets for the Gophers and was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team, the Midwest All Region Team and the All-Big Ten Second Team. Kayfes was the top Gopher at three meets.
Most Improved - Chelsea Pettit, Kaila Urick, Andie Zeman
Three different Gopher student-athletes were given the Most Improved Award this year: junior Chelse Pettit, and sophomores Kaila Urick and Andie Zeman.
Pettit competed in six meets for the Gophers this year and improved in each of her first four meets. She finished the season with a time of 22:27.5, almost a full minute faster than her best time from her sophomore season.
Urick also showed dramatic improvement in her second season with the Gophers, cutting over 1:40 off her personal best. Urick's ran a 21:21.0 in the open race at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. For her efforts, Urick was named an alternate for the Big Ten Championship, NCAA Midwest Regional and NCAA Championship.
Zeman competed in six different meets this year, three more than she did in her first season running for the Gophers. Zeman posted a career best time in three straight races before running a career-best 22:44 at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational, almost a minute lower than her best time the previous season.
Blue Collar - Maggie Bollig, Becca Dyson
Blue Collar award winners are the team's "worker bees," according to Hopkins. "They won't be super flashy, but they're going to get the job done." This year, that described senior Maggie Bollig and sophomore Becca Dyson.
Bollig ran in seven meets for the Gophers this year and was the team's second finisher in the NCAA championships. Bollig was consistently in the Gophers' top three, including running a career-best 20:35.4 to finish second on the team (eighth overall) at the Midwest Regional. She was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Team, the Midwest All-Region Team, and the All-Big Ten Second Team.
Dyson also competed in seven races this year, earning a place on the Gophers' postseason roster. She ran a personal best 20:57 as the Gophers' sixth runner at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. Dyson was named to the Midwest All-Region Team and Academic All-Big Ten Team.
Carl Barylak Inspiration - Kelli Budd
The Carl Barylak Inspiration award, named after a devoted and loving father of a former Gopher athlete, is given annually to an athlete who manages to overcome adversity during the season. Senior Kelli Budd was given the award this year. "She was really the heartbeat of our team," Hopkins said of Budd.
Budd raced in seven meets, including the NCAA championship and regional meets. She clocked a season-best 21:26.5 at the Midwest Regional, placing 38th overall and seventh on the team. Budd also had a breakout race at the Big Ten Championships with an 18th place individual showing as Minnesota's fourth runner in 21:31.6.
Coaches Award - Lauren Domski, Jamie Vandenberg
The Coaches Award is given to student-athletes who not only are exemplary on the course, but are willing to go the extra mile to help the program off the course. Sophomore Lauren Domski and senior Jamie Vandenberg were selected for the award this year, for "always being the first ones in line to help out," according to Hopkins.
Academic Commitment - Rachel Drake
Senior Rachel Drake took home the Academic Commitment Award for being able to juggle the demands of the course and the demands of the classroom successfully. Drake earned the fourth Academic All-Big Ten award of her career and her fourth varsity letter after the 2013 season.
Iron Gopher - Anne Ferguson
The winner of the Iron Gopher Award is selected by the team's strength and conditioning coach, for the athlete "that goes the extra mile in the weight room," according to Hopkins. Sophomore Anne Ferguson came away with the award this year, and her work in the weight room showed when she ran a career-best time of 22:46.5 at Jack's Run.
Gophers Volunteer at Feed My Starving Children
The Gophers took a team outing to volunteer at Feed My Starving Children during winter break.
Distance Gophers Set for Track
Coach Sarah Hopkins previews the distance squad as the Gophers prepare to kick off the 2017 track & field season.
Faces of the Big Ten: Madeline Strandemo
The Gophers cross country and track & field student-athlete is featured in this year's Faces of the Big Ten campaign.