Golden Gopher Cross Country This Week:
Big Ten Conference Cross County Championships
Sunday, Oct. 31
Women - 10:45 a.m. CT
Men - 11:45 a.m. CT
Zimmer Championship Course
TV Coverage: Big Ten Network
Sunday, Nov. 21 – 11 a.m. CT
Golden Gopher Watch List — Oct. 27, 2010
• Minnesota Ready for Big Ten Championships - The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams travel to Verona Wis., for the 2010 Big Ten Conference Cross Country Championships on Sunday, Oct. 31. Wisconsin hosts the event, which is in its 96th year for the men and 30th for the women. The women’s 6-kilometer race begins at 10:45 a.m. (CT) and will be followed by the men’s 8-kilometer race at 11:45 a.m.
• BTN Tape Delay - The Big Ten Network will televise the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on a tape-delayed basis airing on Sunday, Nov. 21.
• Both Men and Women Third a Year Ago - Both the Minnesota men and women tallied third-place finishes at the Big Ten Championships a year ago. yet later advanced to the NCAA Championships.
• Gophers to Watch - Junior Stephanie Price and redshirt freshman Missa Varpness have been the Gophers’ top runners all season on the women’s side. The men are led by a trio of runners in seniors Ben Blankenship and Mike Torchia and sophomore Pieter Gagnon.
• Gopher All-American Mead to Miss Season - Gopher senior All-American Hassan Mead will miss the 2010 season due to injury. A three-time All-American, Mead won Big Ten titles in 2008 and 2009.
Big Ten Championships
The No. 19 Minnesota women’s cross country team kicks off the championship portion of their schedule traveling to the 2010 Big Ten Cross Country Championships in Verona, Wis., on Sunday, Oct. 31. Wisconsin will play host to the event, the 30th Big Ten women’s meet, at the Zimmer Championship Course. The women’s race, 6 kilometers in length, begins at 10:45 a.m. (CT) and will be followed immediately by the men’s 8K race.
Big Ten Honors
The top seven finishers will be awarded All-Big Ten First-Team honors. Runners placing eighth through 14th will receive second-team All-Big Ten accord.
Some New Faces Leading the Way
Last year, five of the top six Big Ten finishers were seniors. Penn State’s Bridget Franek won the Big Ten title and went on to finish 26th in the NCAA Championships. Big Ten runner-up Angela Bizzarri of Illinois ended up winning the NCAA individual crown. Minnesota’s Megan Duwell finished third at the Big Ten meet and seventh at NCAAs.
The top returner from the 2009 Big Ten Championships is Michigan junior Kaitlyn Peale, who was fourth. Minnesota’s top returner is sophomore Kayla Wagner, who captured All-Big Ten Second Team honors in 2009 with a 14th-place finish.
How’s This for a Change of the Guard?
In one year’s time, Minnesota went from one of the most experienced teams to one of the Big Ten’s youngest. In 2009, the Gopher lineup featured four seniors running their fourth Conference Championships race. Overall, the 2009 lineup competed in 23 Big Ten races. This season, only Nikki Swenson, Stephanie Price and Kayla Wagner have Big Ten experience. That trio has competed in a total of five Big Ten cross country championships races.
Minnesota at the Big Ten Meet
Even before Minnesota won its first Big Ten title in 2007, the Golden Gophers were one of the most consistent upper-echelon team finishers in the 29-year history of the event. Overall, the Golden Gophers have placed in the top five, or the upper echelon, in the Big Ten in 22 of 29 championships. The Gophers have had one runner win the Big Ten individual title: Eileen Donaghy in 1987.
Big Ten Championships History
Wisconsin has won 13 of 29 team titles in the history of Big Ten Women’s Cross Country. Penn State won its first title last year. Four teams (Illinois, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue) have yet to win a cross country team championship. Following is a listing of team champions:
Wisconsin: 1983, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 91, 95, 96, 97, 98, 99, 00
Michigan: 1992, 93, 94, 02, 03, 04, 05, 06
Indiana: 1989, 90
Michigan State: 1981, 01
Minnesota 2007, 08
Penn State 2009
The Golden Gopher Lineup
Nine Golden Gophers will compete at the Big Ten Championships. Following their name is a listing of any previous experience at the Big Ten Championships.
Ashlie Decker (Fr., Des Moines, Iowa/Dowling Catholic)
Laura Docherty (RFr., St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall)
Rachel Drake (RFr., White Bear Lake, Minn./White Bear Lake)
Katie Moraczewski (RFr., White Bear Lake, Minn./White Bear Lake)
Stephanie Price (Jr., Mankato, Minn./Loyola Catholic HS)
2009 - 18th, 21:19
Claire Rindo (So., Berlin, Wis./Berlin) - alternate
Nikki Swenson (Sr., Dawson, Minn./Dawson-Boyd HS)
2007 - 44th, 21:28.91
2008 - 61st, 22:33.6
2009 - 43rd, 21:51
Missa Varpness (RFr., Montevideo, Minn./Montevideo)
Kayla Wagner (So., Baldwin, Wis./Baldwin-Woodville HS)
2009 - 14th, 21:06
Kelly Wilson (Sr., Ortonville, Mich./Brandon)
Big Ten Loaded With Ranked Teams
The Big Ten Conference has five teams ranked among the top 30 in the USTFCCCA Poll. Michigan State leads the way ranked No. 16, followed by No. 19 Minnesota, No. 21 Michigan, No. 29 Indiana and No. 30 Iowa.
Stephanie Price a Two-Time Big Ten Runner of the Week
Minnesota junior Stephanie Price has been recognized as the Big Ten Runner of the Week twice in 2010. Her first career honor came after she won medalist honors at the Oz Memorial. She added her second Conference weekly honor with a runner-up finish at the Griak Invitational.
Price Second in Griak, Gophers Seventh as a Team
Golden Gopher junior Stephanie Price finished second in the Griak Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race, pacing Minnesota to a seventh-place finish in an extremely deep and talented Division I field. Price ran a career-best time of 20 minutes, 40.75 seconds, the 19th-best time in Gopher history, over the 6-kilometer Les Bolstad Course in Falcon Heights, Minn.
Price was the only Gopher to finish in the top 25 as Minnesota scored 185 team points. Arizona won the race with 76 points, topping the 29-team field which included nine teams that competed in the 2009 NCAA Championships.
Redshirt freshman Missa Varpness was the second finisher for the Gophers, finishing 28th overall in her first career Griak and clocking a time of 21:46.40, also a career best. True freshman Ashlie Decker, who ran to Griak runner-up honors twice in high school, was 39th in a time of 21:56.90.
Golden Gopher Coaching Staff
Gary Wilson, the dean of the Big Ten women’s cross country coaches, is in his 26th season heading the Minnesota program. He is assisted by volunteer assistant head coach, Sarah Hesser, who is in her sixth season on the coaching staff after competing for the Golden Gophers.