Minnesota’s second group runs for last time this year

The Gophers rested their top runners in both Rocky’s Run and the Fall Finale.

Betsy Helfand

The Gophers women’s cross country team rested its top runners for the Rocky’s Run event this weekend.

But that doesn’t mean the race was meaningless.

Minnesota hosted the 33rd annual Rocky’s Run at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Sunday. The event was the Gophers’ last home meet of the season.

Freshman Haley Johnson was the first runner to cross the finish line. It was the last race of the season for Johnson, who said she’s come a long way since the beginning of the year.

“I have a lot more confidence now than earlier in the season,” she said. “I’ve worked on coming out more aggressively early in races, and it’s helped me give myself a shot to actually win.”

Gophers head coach Sarah Hopkins said she’s seen a lot of improvement from Johnson as the year has progressed.

“Haley ran great today,” she said. “She’ll be in our top group next year.”

Hopkins said she uses the event primarily to evaluate the younger players on her team.

None of the Gophers who ran Sunday will run for the team in the NCAA Midwest Regional or the NCAA championships in the next two weeks, she said.

Hopkins said even though this group won’t compete again, it’s still important for her runners to perform well in their last race.

“It plays into their development for the rest of the year,” she said. “You need to use these opportunities to carry forward into the next season.”

Bartnik paces men

Minnesota’s men’s team, like the women’s team, rested its top runners this weekend.

Redshirt sophomore Aaron Bartnik led the way individually with a time of 24:43. Redshirt freshmen Cole O’Brien and Troy Koivisto finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Sophomore Josh Thorson and freshman Bradley Woodford, who both ran unattached, finished the race second and third, respectively.

Minnesota had only three attached runners compete in the meet and did not place as a team.