The Golden Gophers will compete in their eighth straight NCAA Cross Country Championships race this weekend. They will look to end Gary Wilson’s final season as head coach on a high note.
Minnesota finished 27th at last year’s national meet. The Gophers’ 2010 All-American and No. 1 runner for two years, Stephanie Price, graduated, but the team brings back five other runners with NCAA Championships experience. Minnesota’s depth has been a strong point this season.
Entering this weekend, Minnesota is ranked 25th in the final USTFCCCA poll. The Gophers will face many familiar teams on Saturday, including several they saw at the Roy Griak and Wisconsin adidas Invitationals. Assistant coach Sarah Hesser said that right now, the Gophers are probably slotted to finish somewhere in the second half of the field.
“On a great day, I think we could be in the high teens,” she said. “On an average day, we should be in the mid-20s, I would guess. …But the way the national meet works, it’s just so hard to predict. Every team that’s there is really, really good.”
Minnesota brings positive momentum into the race after a close third-place finish at the Midwest Region meet.
“I think we ran the best team race of our season at regionals,” Hesser said.
As they have the whole fall, the Gophers will keep trying to get even better. The runners have said continually that they were not completely satisfied with their performances.
“I think it shows how much we know what we can do, and how high our expectations are,” junior Ashlie Decker said of that mentality.
The Gophers will try to peak at the end of the season, on college cross country’s biggest stage.