Sophomore Jamie Cheever and senior Ladia Albertson-Junkans were named co-Most Valuable Runners as the Minnesota women’s cross country team announced their end-of-season awards at the recent team banquet. The Golden Gophers celebrated one of their finest seasons in Minnesota history capturing titles in the Roy Griak Invitational, the Big Ten Championships and the NCAA Midwest Region Championships, then going on to finish 12th at the NCAA Championships.
“Jamie and Lads have been wonderful leaders this year,” said veteran Golden Gopher head coach Gary Wilson, the 2007 Big Ten and NCAA Midwest Region Coach of the Year. “Jamie had a break-out season this fall and Lads (Ladia) continues to be the heart and soul of this team both on the course and off. They are both wonderful representatives of this team.”
Cheever, a Minneapolis native, was Minnesota’s number-one runner in six meets this season and became the sixth Golden Gopher to capture All-America honors. Cheever finished 33rd overall at the NCAA meet, clocking a time of 20 minutes, 58.3 seconds. She recorded the second-fastest 6-kilometer time in school history in placing eighth at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships (20:23). In addition to her All-America accolade, Cheever was a Second Team All-Big Ten and All-NCAA Midwest Region honoree.
Albertson-Junkans, a Stillwater, Minn., native, was the only Gophers’ lone senior on Minnesota’s championship lineup and was truly the heart and soul of the 2007 squad. Albertsin-Junkans, a team captain, captured Second Team All-Big Ten and All-NCAA Midwest Region honors in her final cross country campaign. Her leadership of a team that ran six five sophomores on their national meet roster cannot be underestimated.
A number of additional team awards were also given out at the banquet. Heather Dorniden and Sally Paulson shared the Most Improved Award, while Nikki Swenson was honored with the Freshman of the Year Award. Paulson also collected the Blue Collar Award. The Tough as Nails Award was given to Megan Duwell and Mallory Van Ness and Dani Ashford were co-recipients of the Comeback of the Year Award. Finally, the Coaches’ Award was given to sisters Elizabeth and Bekah Yetzer.
The 2007 captains were also recognized for their leadership of a team that number 50 student-athletes, one of the largest squads in the nations. Captains this season were Gabriele Anderson, Katelyn Barylak, Julie Schwengler, Albertson-Junkans and Bekah Yetzer.