Women’s cross country psyched for Big Tens

by Eric Hammond

The Minnesota women’s cross country team looks to continue its upswing this year at the Big Ten championships this Saturday.
“Our goal all year has been to finish in the top two of the championships,” women’s coach Gary Wilson said.
The nine Minnesota runners include 1998 All-American Rasa Michniovaite, Corrine Nimtz, Elaine Eggleston, Chrissy Eid, Victoria Moses, Minna Haronoja, Anita Menden, Deborah Hudleston, and Jill Field.
And for the Gophers to fulfill their goal, they need to have good days from all nine runners.
“For us to finish second we need to put three runners in the top 10, and two in the top five,” Wilson said.
After the top three of Michniovaite, Eggleston and Nimtz, Minnesota is searching for someone to step up and lead the second pack.
“Our second group has interchanged all year, but we need two of them to place in the top 15,” Wilson said.
Health could be factor for the Gophers with Nimtz’ bad back, and Eggleston and Menden nursing calf injuries.
For Minnesota to get into the top two of the teams, they need to score in the 50s or 60s.
“This weekend time means nothing and scores mean nothing,” Wilson said. “We just need to get in there and hang around the front.”
The main competition for Minnesota comes from Wisconsin, which has three up front runners who like to get out fast and up front.
“For us to win the title, we have to have a perfect day, and Wisconsin would have to have an off-day,” Nimtz said.
After Wisconsin, the Gophers will look over their backs and try to hold off Michigan, Michigan State and Northwestern.
“We need to be able to go with the pace to give ourselves an opportunity to do well,” Wilson said.
Penn State is the host school for the championships and the course is longer, but Wilson says that his team is talented enough to handle any course.
But with the NCAA regional and national tournaments on the horizon, the Gophers have to be mentally focused and physically tough.
“I think we’re ready to roll. We look really good in practice, and we’re geared up for the stretch run,” Wilson said. “We have a chance to do something very special this year, starting with the Big Tens and hopefully ending with a top-15 finish at nationals.”