Men’s CC to use balanced team effort at Big Tens

Ryan Schuster

Teamwork. That one word sums up what the men’s cross country team will need to be successful at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships this weekend at Bloomington, Ind.
Minnesota will try to improve on their ninth-place showing at the Big Tens last year.
“I think we can do better,” Coach Steve Plasencia said. “The Big Ten conference is not only good from the top, but it is also tough in the middle. If anyone falls down it’s going to hurt us. Every person that we have is going to have to do their job. That’s why it’s a team.”
Some schools have one runner who stands out from the rest of the squad. The Gophers, however, are solid all the way down their roster.
Senior Rick Obleman is the closest thing the team has to a dominant team leader. He has placed first on the team in four of the team’s five meets this season. Last weekend at the Marathon Sports 5-kilometer race, Obleman led the Gophers with a time of 15 minutes, 22 seconds.
This year Obleman has been challenged by a host of runners on the team.
Freshman Jeremy Polson has finished either first or second on the team in all of the meets in which he has run this season. The Duluth native has a season-best 8K time of 25:27, which he set on Sept. 28 at the Roy Griak Invitational. He has gotten stronger steadily this season and has high hopes for the Big Tens.
“I just want to be in the top 20 in the Big Ten and just keep improving my time,” Polson said.
Junior Tony Riter has been one of the team’s most consistent performers this season, becoming the No. 3 runner on the squad. Last weekend he finished in 15:34, only 12 seconds behind Obleman who was the team’s top placer at the meet.
Junior Alan Broderius, sophomores Todd Landgraff, Ron Hoffner, Charles McClure, freshman transfer Mike Stoick and freshman Chris Anderson will also compete with the team Saturday. Phil Smith, a freshman from Lakeville, Minn., will be the squad’s alternate and will run only if someone else on the team is unable to make the trip.
“We’re in good shape,” Plasencia said. “We just need to strap on our helmets and put on our games faces this weekend.”