The Minnesota women's cross country team travels to Stillwater, Okla., on Saturday to compete in the NCAA Midwest Regional Cross Country Championships. The 6-kilometer women's race will begin at 12 noon, following the men's race. Oklahoma State plays host to the NCAA Midwest Region Championships, whose field contains 29 schools from the states of Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
A Lot to Run For
Thirty-one (31) teams will earn berths to the NCAA Championships, which will be run in Waterloo, Iowa on Nov. 24. 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. 17. 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, however, must finish in the top 25 at the regional championship to qualify.
Looking to Get Back on Track
The Golden Gophers slipped to fifth place at the 2002 NCAA Midwest Regional Championships, missing out on a trip to the NCAA Championships for the first time in five years. Despite running a youthful lineup, Minnesota hopes to get back on track and turn its NCAA competitions streak into six times in the last seven years.
Midwest Region Preview
The same scenario exists for the Minnesota women's team as it does for the Gopher men. The Midwest Region has just one team ranked, Missouri at No. 20, with Nebraska receiving votes, so the only sure way to secure an NCAA berth is to finish in the top two.
The Golden Gophers
Minnesota will head into the NCAA Midwest Regional with a very young squad. The Golden Gophers' top seven will consist of one junior, four sophomores and two freshmen. In all, four Gophers will be running in their first regional meet.
Vasiljeva Surgery Successful
Golden Gopher senior Darja Vasiljeva underwent successful surgery on her left hamstring on Sept. 26. Vasiljeva will miss the remainder of the 2003 cross country season as well as the 2004 indoor and outdoor track season. Vasiljeva placed third at the 2002 Big Ten Championships, fifth at the 2002 NCAA Midwest Regional Cross Country Championships and 87th at the 2002 NCAA Championships.
The Golden Gopher Lineup
Seven Golden Gophers will compete at the NCAA Midwest Regional Championships. Following their name is a listing of any previous experience at the NCAA Regional. Laura Bjork will travel as an alternate.
Laura Bjork (Sr., Colfax, Wis./Colfax) - alternate
2002 - 85th, 22:42.13
2001 - 13th, 21:31.5
Emily Brown (Fr., West Allis, Wis./Nathan Hale)
Carly Emil (So., Mandan, N.D./Mandan)
2002 - 29th, 21:43.61
Jen Hess (So., Paynesville, Minn./Paynesville)
2002 - 34th, 21:45.02
Amy Lindner (So., Sioux Falls, S.D./O'Gorman)
Harper McConnell (So., Manhattan, Kan./Manhattan)
Zoe Nagell (Jr., Plymouth, Minn./Robbinsdale-Armstrong)
2002 - 67th, 22:30.99
Katrina Rundhaug (Fr., Dodgeville, Wis./Dodgeville)
Big Ten Championships Review
The Minnesota women's cross country team placed sixth in the Big Ten Conference Women's Cross Country Championships in East Lansing, Mich., on Nov. 2. The Golden Gophers scored 170 points, finishing just six points out of fourth place. Michigan tallied 31 points in defending its conference title.
Wolverine sophomore Rebecca Walter captured conference medalist honors by covering the 6-kilometer course in a time of 20 minutes, 40.5 seconds. Walter was one of four Wolverines to post top-10 finishes.
Junior Zoe Nagell posted the Golden Gophers' top finish, placing 20th in a time of 21:50.3. Nagell's performance marks the first time in her career that she run to the team's number-one position.
Freshman Katrina Rundhaug was the second Minnesota finisher, placing 36th overall with a time of 22:15.2 Other scoring Gophers were Jen Hess, who placed 38th in 22:16.0, Harper McConnell, who placed 39th in 22:16.7, and Emily Brown, who placed 42nd in 22:20.5.
Minnesota's youthful lineup included five runners competing in their first Big Ten meet. The meet's top 20 finishers included 14 runners who were either juniors or seniors.