Success has become a expectation of the No. 7 Minnesota women’s cross country team at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships. The Golden Gophers defended their Midwest Region team title and for the third consecutive year landed six runners on the NCAA All-Midwest Region honor squad. Minnesota also received an automatic qualifying berth into the Nov. 24 NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind.
Minnesota finished with all five of its scoring runners in the top 20 to compile 57 points, bettering Illinois’ runner-up total of 64. Junior Megan Duwell, the Gophers’ number-one runner in every meet this season, finished fourth overall covering 6-kilometer Oklahoma State Cross Country course in Stillwater, Okla., in a time of 20 minutes, 45.25 seconds.
“We ran a great team race today,” said Golden Gopher head coach Gary Wilson. “We went in with the plan to run an aggressive race from the start and our pack did a terrific job is sticking together.”
The Gophers’ next three placewinners were a perfect testament to successful teamwork throughout the race as senior Gabriele Anderson posted a 12th-place finish in a time of 21:24.35. She was followed across the finish line by Amy Laskowske in 13th clocking a time of 21:26.55 and Mallory Van Ness in 14th in 21:26.85.
Felicitas Mensing, a graduate student running her first NCAA regional meet with the Gophers after running for Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Southeast Region Championships, chipped in an 18th-place finish in a time of 21:29.90.
The sixth Golden Gopher to claim all-region acclaim, earned by the meet’s top 25 placewinners, was Heather Dorniden. Dorniden finished 19th in a time of 21:31.15.
Minnesota has not only celebrated six all-region performers in each of the last three years, but the seventh Gopher finisher once again just missed out on the postseason honor by placing 26th. This season is was Jamie Cheever, who finished in a time of 21:42.15.
Iowa senior Racheal Marchand won the individual title in a time of 20:32.05.
Minnesota and runner-up Illinois earn the Midwest Region’s automatic berths into the upcoming NCAA Championships. The 31-team field will be filled with 13 at-large teams announced on Monday. Two Big Ten Conference teams finished first and second in the NCAA Great Lakes Region Michigan and Wisconsin to grab the automatic berths from that region.