Minnesota men’s cross country senior Chris Rombough signed his name into the school record books Saturday in a rather impressive fashion.
The team’s All-American selection from a year ago broke the school’s all-time fastest mark on an 8-kilometer race in the pre-NCAA meet white race at Terre Haute, Ind., this weekend.
His 23-minute, 39.7-second finish helped propel No. 24 Minnesota to a seventh place finish in the event, good enough to beat three teams with higher rankings in the process.
“I didn’t even know I broke the record until I looked on the Gopher Sports Web site last night,” Rombough mused. “But it was really motivating because there have been a lot of really good guys who have ran here.”
What: Women’s Cross Country
when: 10 a.m., Saturday
where: Falcon Heights, Minn.
Rombough’s record topped Dave Morrison’s 23-year mark. Morrison finished the Wisconsin Duels in 23:50.4 on Sept. 29, 1984.
“It was a fast day,” coach Steve Plasencia said. “It was a good run for Chris, but I wouldn’t call it a great run. He started out rather conservatively and started picking people off later.”
The Gophers finished before 14th-ranked Providence, 16th-ranked William and Mary and 20th-ranked Arizona State in route to the seventh place finish, schools all ranked higher in last week’s national polls.
“We’re happy,” Rombough said. “There were nine teams ranked higher than us coming into this race. Only six of them beat us. That’s a good thing.”
BIG TEN CHAMPIONSHIP
What: Men’s Cross Country
when: 10:30 a.m., Oct 28
where: Columbus, Ohio
Liberty’s Josh McDougal won the white race with a 22:56.4 finish. McDougal, the 2006 Roy Griak Invitational champion, broke the newly established course record set by Northern Arizona’s Lopez Lmong’s mark set in Saturday’s blue race.
Lmong, the 2007 Griak champion, broke the record in the earlier race, but McDougal edged him by roughly 7 seconds later in the morning.
Texas-El Paso won the white event in upset fashion. The Miners, who came into the event tied with the Sun Devils at No. 20 in the polls, finished with 26 points ahead of second place Colorado.
Women place fourth
Sophomore Jamie Cheever finished first among Minnesota women’s cross country participants for the fourth time this season as the Gophers, ranked fourth in the nation, took fourth in the pre-NCAA meet blue race.
Cheever, who has paced the Gophers in every event she’s competed in this year, finished the pre-NCAA meet with a personal best 20:44.5 in the 6-kilometer race.
Her efforts earned her 15th place individually against a competitive field.
“She’s done a tremendous job taking on that (leadership) role,” senior Ladia Albertson-Junkans said. “She does what she needs to do and can do.”
No. 1 Stanford finished first overall in the race, followed by No. 11 Florida State and No. 9 Michigan State.
Coach Gary Wilson was adamant last week about how closely matched the top 15 teams in the country are this season, and his foresight was proved by such a strong performance by the Seminoles and the Spartans on Saturday.
“When we combined the results of the (blue and white races), there was a difference of five points between fourth and seventh place,” Albertson-Junkans said. “I think that attests that on any day one runner could be a couple places ahead or behind and that could throw off the team’s place.”
Sophomore Elizabeth Yetzer finished second for the Gophers, followed by junior Gabriele Anderson and Albertson-Junkans.
Minnesota’s fifth through seventh racers suffered after a slow start, finishing 92nd, 94th and 120th, respectively.
Overall, Albertson-Junkans said while the team didn’t dominate the event, they are about where they’d like to be heading into the second half of the season.
“In some respects it’s a good thing we didn’t have tremendous success this season,” she said. “Now we’re still really hungry.”