MINNEAPOLIS – The University of Minnesota women's cross country program is pleased to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of its 2007 Big Ten Cross Country Championship at this year's Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Course on Saturday, Sept. 23.
The Golden Gophers welcome members of the 2007-08 team back to campus to celebrate the program's first B1G cross country title. The team will be honored at 12:40 p.m. CT at the awards stand during the Roy Griak Invitational.
The Gophers won the 2007 Big Ten crown by placing all five scoring runners among the top-17 finishers led by All-Big Ten Second Team performers Ladia Albertson-Junkans (10th) and Gabriele Anderson (14th).
Tickets for the 32nd annual Roy Griak Invitational are now on sale and may be purchased through the University of Minnesota Ticket Office.
The 10-race Griak Invitational features high school, and Division I, II, and III races with the Gopher men set to compete in the Merrill Fischbein Men's Gold (Division I) Competition at 12:10 p.m. CT and the Gopher women set to compete in the Jack Johnson Women's Gold (Division I) Competition at 1:20 p.m. CT.
Relive Minnesota's 2007 Big Ten title with the following press release from the Gopher Athletics archives.
GOPHER WOMEN'S CROSS COUNTRY TEAM WINS BIG TEN TITLE, THE FIRST IN SCHOOL HISTORY
Oct. 28, 2007
Minnesota captured the first Big Ten women’s cross country title in school history on Sunday, edging Michigan State by one point (72-73) and placing all five scoring runners in the top 17, at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio. The No. 8 Golden Gophers were led by senior Ladia Albertson-Junkans and junior Gabriele Anderson, who gathered All-Big Ten Second Team accord with a 10th place and 14th place finishes, respectively.
“This was the best team effort that I’ve ever had in my 40-plus years of coaching,” said Minnesota head coach Gary Wilson, who is in this 23rd season at Minnesota. “We executed our game plan perfectly. We finished with our top eight runners in front of everyone else’s fifth finisher, which is quite an accomplishment.
“And Ladia,” Wilson continued. “She is the heart and soul of this team. I think the team wanted to do this for her. She stepped up big time today.”
The 6-kilometer race on The Ohio State University Golf Course came down to the final 1,500 meters where several Gophers made moves past runners ahead of them. Sophomore Heather Dorniden’s sprint to the final line, as the Gophers’ fifth scoring runner, played the decisive role in the race's outcome. Dorniden passed three opposing runners in the last 300 meters, most notably Michigan State’s Sarah Price, to secure what turned out to be the slimmest of winning margins. Dorniden finished 17th, while Price ended up in 19th.
The pace early on was not as quick as expected on the fast, rather level, course. The Gophers’ entire lineup of nine runners was able to stay with the top pack and work together to set up the dramatic finish.
“Our fifth through ninth runners were able to stay close with our top four,” explained Wilson. “Nikki Swenson did a great job of making that happen, even though she paid the price later in the race. We were able to stay steady and poised throughout, then dug deep to keep working past people down the stretch.”
Albertson-Junkans, the lone senior in the Gophers’ lineup, crossed the finish line in a time of 20:21.81 seconds. Only 21 seconds passed before Minnesota’s Dorniden clocked the fifth scoring time (20:42.55) for the Gophers. Anderson ran a time of 20:32.60 to lead a pack of four consecutive Minnesota finishers with Elizabeth Yetzer placing 15th in 20:36.14, Jamie Cheever in 16th in 20:37.32, then Dorniden.
“We knew we had a lot of depth, likely the most in the Big Ten,” added Wilson. “But, we also knew that we didn’t have those one or two runners way up front. We had to pack it in, and having 21 seconds of a spread between your first and fifth runners is phenomenal.”
Completing the Gopher lineup was Sally Paulson in 23rd (20:53.69), Mallory Van Ness in 27th (20:57.85), Megan Duwell in 30th (21:00.58), and Swenson in 44th (21:28.91).
The Gophers had to wait before getting the final word that they had indeed won the title by a single point. The squad gathered at the team tent, still reveling in a race well run, when Volunteer Assistant Coach Sarah Hesser sprinted over with the news. Plenty of joyful hugs and tears followed.
“This is so special to win the title in my senior year,” said Albertson-Junkans. “There was so much positive energy going into the race. Then everyone contributed, not only the nine running today but our other teammates, the fans and parents...it was just great, I’m overwhelmed.”
Minnesota’s victory ended a five-year winning streak for Michigan. The Wolverines finished third with 90 points, followed by Illinois with 95. The top four teams in the Big Ten all entered the Championships with a top-10 national ranking. Winning the individual Big Ten crown was Iowa senior Diane Nukuri in 19:37.60.
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