U women runners bear weather

Ryan Schuster

A cloudy haze settled over the University’s Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, bringing with it cold and windy conditions for running. A crowd of more than 50 fans huddled together as they cheered the runners on.
Minnesota’s women’s cross country team seemed unaffected by the adverse weather, as they ran hard under difficult circumstances.
The Gophers’ second team of 13 runners competed Saturday at the Marathon Sports Open 5-kilometer race.
Sophomore Gillian Haro took first among the women competitors in 18 minutes, 58 seconds. It was her highest finish on the team since she placed third at the St. Olaf Invitational Sept. 21.
Heidi Johnson was runner up to Haro by 15 seconds. The freshman from Anchorage, Alaska, had her best finish of the season. Her mother and sister made the long trip to see her compete.
Andrea Swansby, Renee Kalmbach, Marissa McGill, Nikki Rassbach and Danielle Giusti all finished the race in less than 20 minutes for the Gophers. Glenalyn Johnson, Beth Cordes, Christie Heikes, Laura McGinley, Anne-Marie Marshall and Megan Amundson also placed under 23 minutes.
After the race, Gophers coach Gary Wilson held a team meeting and stressed the importance of the reserve runners not losing their focus late in the year.
“It’s a difficult time of the season for the guys who aren’t going to the Big Tens (Big Ten Cross Country Championships),” Wilson said. “They have to learn to stay focused in the next two weeks because someday they will be going to the Big Tens.”
The top nine runners on the team advance each year to the Big Tens.
None of the runners who competed this weekend will advance to the Big Tens. Eleven of the 13 second-teamers who ran this weekend are in their first two years of eligibility, which means they will have two or three years to make it to the Big Tens.
Minnesota will send its first team of nine runners to Bloomington, Ind., on Saturday to compete at the Big Tens. After having the weekend off to prepare and rest, they should be fired up and ready to go, Wilson said.
“I think it’s not so much a physical, but a psychological rest,” Wilson said. “They have had three big meets in the last four weeks, and they need time to prepare to make the last push for Big Tens, regionals and nationals.”