A senior and an alumna steal the show at Les Bolstad

Redshirt senior Erik Grumstrup finished first at the Marathon Sports Open.

by David McCoy

In a race featuring the future of Minnesota’s men’s and women’s cross country programs, the past stole the show.

Both Minnesota’s men’s and women’s teams rested their top runners in preparation for Sunday’s Big Ten Championships and handed the reins to their future leaders.

But it was redshirt senior Erik Grumstrup who captured the victory. Grumstrup won the 5K race with a time of 15:45.1, 13 seconds ahead of freshman teammate Ben Puhl, at Les Bolstad Cross Country Course.

“It’s good to keep racing,” Grumstrup said. “It’s sort of something that one easily forgets how to do if you don’t do it every other week or so, like you do during the season.”

Grumstrup had not run competitively all season.

Men’s coach Steve Plasencia said he was not surprised by the performance of Grumstrup, who was one of Minnesota’s better runners last year.

“I kind of expected he’d do pretty well,” Plasencia said. “Our guys usually dominate the 5K at this thing.”

And dominate they did.

Following Grumstrup and Puhl, Minnesota freshmen Luke Walker and Seijen Takamura finished fourth and fifth, respectively, awarding the Gophers four of the top five finishes.

The open featured two races, a 5K and a 10K, in which men and women of many ages ran together.

Grumstrup, as well as the other redshirted Gophers, ran unattached in the 5K, because – as redshirts – they are not using eligibility this year.

Two eligible Gophers – Tom Schmidt and Todd Johnson – ran in the 10K race, finishing 18th and 20th, respectively.

Minnesota’s women also ran in the 5K race but it was a former Gophers runner who was most impressive.

Rasa Michniovaite, who graduated from Minnesota in 1999, was the top female finisher in the 5K race, finishing 29th overall.

A former All-American and two-time winner of the team’s most valuable runner award, Michniovaite finished 17 places ahead of the next woman.

The top women’s finisher for the current Minnesota team was junior Annie Wells, a Minnesota Daily employee, with a time of 19:14.6. Sophomore Stefanie

Zeihen finished three places behind Wells.

Women’s coach Gary Wilson said that as a result of their solid performances Sunday, he will be keeping Wells and Zeihen on the active roster in case Minnesota needs to replace someone at Sunday’s Big Ten Championships because of illness or injury.

Freshman Gabriele Anderson, who did not compete in the open, will remain active as well.

Wilson said this meet helped his younger runners gain an understanding of what it takes to be a good collegiate athlete.

“It’s all about that first year of experience,” Wilson said. “There’s nothing like that first year. Because you can talk all you want as a coach, but until you really experience it, you have no idea.

“It’s like people that get married; you know if you’re not married and you’re talking to someone about getting married, you have no idea about marriage until you’re married. You have to live it, and then you go, ‘OK, that’s what it’s about.’ “