Golden Gopher Cross Country
NCAA Midwest Region Cross Country Championships
Host - Bradley U.
Saturday, Nov. 10
Men 11 a.m. (CT)
Women 12:15 p.m. (CT)
Newman Golf Course
Golden Gopher Watch List Nov. 10, 2007
Minnesota Compete in NCAA Midwest Region Championships - The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Peoria, Ill., on Saturday, Nov. 10 to compete in the NCAA Midwest Region Championships. The 10-kilometer men’s race begins at 11 a.m., followed by the 6-kilometer women’s race at 12:15 p.m.
Gophers Chase NCAA Championships Berths - The top two team finishers from the nine regional championships around the country earn automatic berths to the Nov. 19 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Gopher Women WIn First Big Ten Title - Minnesota captured the first Big Ten cross country title in school history. The Gophers won the crown without a single All-Big Ten First Team performer. Ladia Albertson-Junkans and Gabriele Anderson earned All-Big Ten Second Team acclaim with 10th- and 14th-place finishes, respectively.
Gary Wilson Named Big Ten Coach of the Year - Veteran head coach Gary Wilson was honored as the Big Ten Women’s Cross Country Coach of the Year. Wilson is in his 23rd season with the Gophers.
Gopher Men Finish Second in Big Ten, Best Since 1970 - The Minnesota men enjoyed their finest outing at the Big Ten meet since 1970, finishing with runner-up honors. Hassan Mead, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, placed second, while Chris Rombough finished fourth. Both earned All-Big Ten First Team honors.
NCAA Midwest Region Championships
The Minnesota women’s cross country team looks to secure an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships with a top-two finish at the 2007 Midwest Region Championships. Bradley is the host for the 2007 regional meet, which will be held on Saturday, Nov. 10, at the Newman Golf Course in Peoria, Ill. The women’s 6-kilometer race is scheduled for 12:15 p.m.
NCAA Berth at Stake
Thirty-one (31) teams will earn berths to the NCAA Championships, which will be run in Terre Haute, Ind., on Nov. 19. The top two teams from each of the nine regions automatically qualify for the Championships. Another 13 at-large teams will be added to the field and announced on Monday, Nov. 12. In addition, four individual competitors from each region, who are not part of qualifying teams, will also earn their way into the Championships field. These individuals must finish in the top 25 at the regional championship to qualify. Additionally two individuals will be chosen at large by the NCAA committee.
Midwest Region Championships Women’s Preview
The three Big Ten teams in the Midwest Region are the top nationally ranked teams in the field as well, with Minnesota leading the way at No. 6, followed by Illinois at No. 12 and Iowa at No. 19. The only other ranked team in the Midwest Region field is No. 30 Nebraska.
NCAA Berth Virtually a Lock for Gophers
Minnesota’s goal is to earn one of the two automatic qualifying berths from the Midwest Region. Regardless of Saturday’s outcome, however, the Golden Gophers have virtually locked up an NCAA invitation by their performances in other big meets throughout the season, especially wins at the Griak Invitational and the Big Ten Championships. A Gophers’ NCAA bid in 2007 would be their third consecutive and eighth over the last 11 seasons.
Minnesota at the Midwest Region Championships
Minnesota has yet to win a Midwest Region title. Last season, the Gophers finished second to Illinois and claimed an automatic NCAA berth. The Gophers have yet to celebrate an individual champion either. Ladia Albertson-Junkans was the 2005 runner-up, her second-place showing marking the highest in school history. She was fifth a year ago. Former Gopher All-American Emily Brown was third in 2005 and 2006.
Defending Midwest Region Champions
Illinois is the defending Midwest Region champion. The 2006 individual winner, Iowa senior Diane Nukuri, the 2007 Big Ten titlist, returns to defend her title.
The Golden Gopher Lineup
Seven Golden Gophers will compete at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships. A team’s final lineup does not have to be declared until the day of the competition. Following is a list of possible participants and a listing of any previous experience at the regional meet.
Gabriele Anderson (Jr., Perham, Minn./Perham)
2006 - 17th, 21:35.62
Ladia Albertson-Junkans (Sr., Stillwater, Minn./Stillwater)
2004 - 26th, 21:28.97
2005 - 2nd, 20:52
2006 - 5th, 20:53.62
Jamie Cheever (So., Minneapolis, Minn./Southwest)
2006 - 10th, 21:09.92
Heather Dorniden (So., Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Rosemount)
2006 - 26th, 21:51.77
Megan Duwell (So., West Bend, Wis./West Bend West)
Sally Paulson (So., Inver Grove Heights, Minn./Simley)
Nikki Swenson (Fr., Dawson, Minn./Dawson-Boyd) - alternate
Mallory Van Ness (So., Shoreview, Minn./Mounds View/Missouri) - alternate
Elizabeth Yetzer (So., Lakeville, Minn./Lakeville North)
2006 - 21:36.02
Golden Gophers Ranked No. 6
Minnesota moved up two spots to No. 6 in the Oct. 30 U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association NCAA Division I poll. The Gophers spent two weeks earlier this season ranked No. 4, the highest in school history.
Minnesota Celebrates Its First Big Ten Cross Country Title
Minnesota captured the first Big Ten women’s cross country title in school history on Oct. 28, 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 runner ahead of them. Sophomore Heather Dorniden’s sprint to the final line, as the Gophers’ fifth scoring runner, would play the decisive role in the Championships’ outcome. Dorniden passed three opposing runners in the last 300 meters, most notably Michigan State’s Sarah Price, to secure what would turn 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 minutes, 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 had 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.
Minnesota Places Fourth in Pre-NCAA Blue Race, Cheever Runs Personal Best
The Golden Gophers placed fourth in the Pre-NCAA Meet, in Terre Haute, Ind., on Oct 13. The meet was contested on the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course, the site of the NCAA Championships in November. Jamie Cheever covered a fast 6-kilometer course in a personal-best time of 20:44.5 to pace the Gophers with a 15th-place finish. Cheever’s time moves her to fourth on the all-time list with her time marking the eighth-fastest time in Gopher history.
Gophers, Cheever Kick Off 2007 With a Pair of Firsts
Not only did Minnesota kick off is 2007 campaign by winning its first two meets, but the Golden Gophers set school history by tallying perfect team scores of 15 points in back-to-back meets for the first time in school history. Individually, sophomore Jamie Cheever grabbed a piece of history herself by capturing medalist honors in back-to-back meets for the first time in Gopher history.
Golden Gopher Coaching Staff
Gary Wilson, the dean of the Big Ten women’s cross country coaches, is in his 23rd season heading the Minnesota program. He is assisted by volunteer assistant, Sarah Hesser, who is in her third season on the coaching staff after competing for the Golden Gophers.