The Minnesota women’s cross country team was looking forward to proving their No. 18 national ranking didn’t adequately reflect the talent on this Golden Gopher team coming off a ninth-place finish at the NCAA Championships a year ago. The Pre-NCAA Meet, run on the national championship course in Terre Haute, Ind., provided a golden opportunity and Minnesota responded with an impressive second-place finish.
Top-ranked Stanford cruised to the title of the Pre-NCAA Meet’s Blue Race tallying 45 points and landing four runners in the top 10. Minnesota scored 200 to easily take second, 24 points ahead of Arizona State. Overall, the Golden Gophers defeated seven teams ranked higher in the national poll entering the meet, including three top-10 teams in No. 6 BYU, No. 7 Princeton and No. 10 Providence.
“My grandfather always used to say that showing was better than telling,” said Golden Gopher head coach Gary Wilson. “We knew we had something to prove and I’m very pleased with how this young team responded. We basically punched our ticket to the NCAA Championships with our performance today.”
No. 5 North Carolina State captured the title in the Pre-NCAA Meet’s White Race. Michigan and Wisconsin tied for second place, while Illinois was fifth, setting up an intriguing battle for the title at the Big Ten Championships at Indiana on Oct. 29.
“All I can say is that it is going to be one heck of a race at Big Tens,” said Wilson. “On any given day, one of four (Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin) could win it. It will be an amazing meet. We’re looking forward to it.”
Senior All-American Emily Brown continued to pace the Gophers. Brown finished ninth in a time of 20 minutes, 31.5 seconds over the 5-kilometer course at the LaVern Gibson Championship Course. Brown has been the Gophers’ number-one runner all season.
“Everyone ran a solid race and the exciting thing is that there is more there; we still have room to improve,” added Wilson. “The individual competition was impressive and much deeper than in past years.”
Junior Ladia Albertson-Junkans added a top-20 individual finish, posting a time of 20:36.6 to place 15th.
Completing the scoring for the Gophers was freshman Elizabeth Yetzer, who finished 39th in 20:58.8; redshirt freshman Jamie Cheever, who placed 48th in 21:04.2; and sophomore Gabriele Anderson, who was 89th in 21:36.4. The remainder of the Gophers’ seven-runner lineup was freshman Amy Laskowske, who placed 91st in 21:37.2, and redshirt freshman Heather Dorniden, who finished 131st in 21:55.8.
The Gophers also sent a squad to Wisconsin-LaCrosse's Tori Neubauer Invitational on Saturday in West Salem, Wis. Minnesota placed 13th as a time and was paced by Stacia Kalinoski, who posted a time of 23:09.24.