Women place 4th, men 5th at Big Ten meet

Junior Laura Docherty finished ninth for the Gophers women.

Drew Claussen

Laura Docherty never finished in the top 10 in the state of Minnesota during her high school career. As a junior in college, she hadn’t finished in the top 10 at the Big Ten championships — until Sunday.

 Docherty finished ninth in Sunday’s 6,000-meter Big Ten meet with a time of 20 minutes, 36 seconds, helping the Gophers finish fourth out of 12 teams.

“That tells you a lot about how far she’s come,” assistant coach Sarah Hesser said. “It’s just a testament to her work ethic.

“She hasn’t done anything spectacular — she just does all the little things right.”

Michigan State hosted the championship meet in East Lansing, Mich. Minnesota had 134 total team points, and Michigan won the event.

“We put ourselves in the right position early and faded just a little bit in the middle of the race and lost a little bit of contact in the middle,” Hesser said. “But other than that, I think we ran very solid — it’s a really deep conference right now.”

The other scoring Gophers runners were Molly Kayfes (26th place), Katie Moraczewski (27th), Ashlie Decker (35th) and Maggie Bollig (37th).

The Gophers finished exactly where they were predicted to finish, but Hesser said the team wasn’t thrilled with the result.

“You want to go in here and perform to your highest level on the day of the Big Ten meet,” she said.

Men place fifth

Gophers head men’s coach Steve Plasencia wished for a stronger result in the Big Ten championships than it had in its last event, but those wishes were not granted.

Minnesota finished fifth in the event with 141 team points. Wisconsin claimed the Big Ten title for the 14th consecutive year with 33 points.

“We hoped we would get better,” Plasencia said. “Both Indiana and Illinois ran really well.”

The Hoosiers finished in third place, and the Illini finished fourth.

Minnesota’s effort was hindered by an injury and a quirky incident on the course.

Marcus Paulson finished fifth on the team for Minnesota despite running on a stress fracture, and Andrew Larson finished fourth despite running the majority of the race with only one shoe.

“We had a little bit of adversity,” Plasencia said. “But we just didn’t do it.”

John Simons was the Gophers’ fastest runner Sunday. He finished the 8,000-meter course in 24 minutes, 9 seconds, which was good enough for 11th place.

Plasencia said he does not envision changing much heading into the NCAA regional championships and beyond.

Plasencia said a couple of runners will benefit from the 10-kilometer NCAA race, which is longer than they’re used to running.

“It’ll be a new day,” he said, “so we just have to come out and have a firm result for that race.”