Women place ninth at NCAAs

After a three-year NCAA absence, Minnesota had its all-time best tournament finish on Monday.

Matt Perkins

For the first time since 2001, Minnesota’s women’s cross country team made the NCAA Championships.

They made a triumphant return to the event Monday afternoon at Indiana State in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Gophers finished in ninth place, the highest team finish in school history and were one of only five schools to place two individuals in the top 25.

And a top 10 finish is a win in coach Gary Wilson’s book.

“I just thought that if they had a tremendous race they could finish in the top 10,” Wilson said. “I felt like we would probably be a 12, 16, 17 team depending on the day we had. But our top three carried us once again.”

The team’s previous best finish at the NCAA Championships was in 1983 when it placed 10th.

Wilson said it was no surprise that Ladia Albertson-Junkans, Emily Brown and Lauren Williams finished one-two-three.

“It’s almost like a little club,” Wilson said. “They get in their run for as long as they can together, they really draw from each other.”

Albertson-Junkans, a sophomore and Brown, a junior, earned All-American honors with 16th and 21st finishes, respectively.

Although the Gophers graduate three seniors this season, they said they won’t miss a beat next season.

“Next year they are going to be just as good if not better,” senior Harper McConnell said. “We have a pretty good reserve that will develop. It’s safe to say the future looks pretty bright for them.”

Men finish 20th in ninth straight NCAA meet

Minnesota’s men’s cross country team ended its season at the NCAA Championships for the ninth straight season Monday.

The team finished 20th in the event, and though that’s not disappointing by coach Steve Plasencia’s standards, it was nothing to get excited over either.

Senior Ryan Malmin, who has been a catalyst for the team over his career, didn’t end his career as expected, finishing 64th overall.

“He finished 28th and was an All-American last year,” Plasencia said. “He said his calves were tight and he didn’t have the kind of day he was hoping for.”

Malmin finished second on the team behind Antonio Vega, who led the way for the Gophers with a 34th-place finish, earning him All-American honors.