Reserves get chance for women’s cross country team

by Ryan Schuster

From the very beginning of team sports, athletes have been divided into two groups.
One group is composed of those who compete on the field, and the other is made up of those who watch their teammates from the sidelines.
This weekend at Eau Claire the women’s cross country team’s second group of runners will run, while the starters watch.
“I want to give them as many opportunities as I can,” coach Gary Wilson said. “It’s a great proving ground, with 25 people on the team you have to give everyone a chance.”
The Gophers will send a group of seven runners, including first-teamer Keri Zweig, into action on Friday in a meet against several smaller local schools.
Zweig, a senior, will compete after recovering from stomach flu, which has weakened her lately.
Four of the other six runners are freshmen competitors. Minnesota’s Megan Amundson, Beth Cordes, Genalyn Johnson and Laurie McGinley are all in their first year of collegiate running. Sophomore Tiffany Barron and senior Anne Marshall round Minnesota’s roster for the weekend meet.
“I think (the second group getting a shot) is great,” Kari Thompson, a junior on Minnesota’s first squad, said. “I know when I was a freshmen I didn’t have a lot of chances to run outside of the (Les Bolstad) golf course. The more chances they have to compete, the stronger and more confident they will become.”
These teams should provide a slower field for the Gopher’s inexperienced harriers.
“(Running on the second team) is really hard at first,” Thompson said. “You are used to running towards the front in high school, but in college you end up running at the rear in big meets.”
Last weekend’s Roy Griak Invitational, hosted by the Gophers, was one meet that featured some of the top cross country teams in the nation.
Minnesota’s number two squad of runners took 23rd in that invite out of 34 teams. The Gophers finished below Wisconsin-La Crosse, Wisconsin-Eau Claire and St. Benedict, which will all be at this weekend’s meet.
“I think they’ll do well,” Wilson said. “We can win this meet, and if not we will finish in the top three for sure.”
Whatever place the squad gets, it seems to be secondary to the experience they will receive from this opportunity.