Gophers preparing for NCAA this weekend

Womens Cross Country Team runs the OZ invitational on the Les Bolstad Golf Course

Image by Stephen Maturen

Women’s Cross Country Team runs the OZ invitational on the Les Bolstad Golf Course

The Minnesota men and womenâÄôs cross country teams will both be in action this weekend âÄî competing at the Pre-NCAA Meet in Terre Haute, Ind. WomenâÄôs coach Gary Wilson said this weekend will be a test for the Gophers as 23 of the top 30 teams in the country will be running including top-ranked Washington. But the competition isnâÄôt the only reason to compete; the LaVern Gibson Cross Country Course is also the host site of the NCAA Championships later this year âÄúThe main reason is to the see the course, but secondly, youâÄôve got to go and get as many points from teams in other regions,âÄù Wilson said. High scores this weekend could help the No. 4 Gophers still make it to the national competition even if they were to underperform at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships in early. ThatâÄôs what the menâÄôs team will focus on according to coach Steve Plasencia. âÄúThe course has been there for enough years now. YouâÄôre only filtering in one or two guys now who havenâÄôt run it,âÄù Plasencia said. The menâÄôs team hasnâÄôt competed since the Roy Griak Invitational on Sept. 27, but Plasencia said the Gophers have been building upon their fourth-place finish at their home meet. While senior Chris Rombough and sophomores Hassan Mead and Mike Torchia are again expected to pace Minnesota, Plasencia said he is looking for transfer sophomore Ben Blankenship and redshirt freshman Sean Olson to improve on their Griak performances Both programs will have a second meet this weekend for athletes that are not competing at the Pre-NCAA meet. The remainder of the womenâÄôs team will compete in the Tori Neubauer Invitational in West Salem, Wisc. The menâÄôs team including junior Matt Barrett, who is being held in reserve until later meets this season, will compete in the Jim Drews Invitational at the same location.