Gophers, Strandemo ready for NCAA Regional meet

Madeline Strandemo was Minnesota’s top finisher in the meet last year and took 34th.

Redshirt junior Madeline Strandemo runs in the Jack Johnson Womens Gold Race at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at the Les Bolstad golf course.

Chelsea Gortmaker

Redshirt junior Madeline Strandemo runs in the Jack Johnson Women’s Gold Race at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016 at the Les Bolstad golf course.

by Alyssa Hodenfield

The Minnesota men’s and women’s cross country teams will travel to Iowa City, Iowa this weekend to compete in the NCAA Midwest Regional meet Friday.

The women’s NCAA regional team consists of returners Madeline Strandemo, Emily Betz, Tamara Gorman, Bailey Ness, and Patty O’Brien, along with newcomers Bethany Hasz, Megan Hasz, Elyse Prescott, Abby Kargol, Courtney Alama and Molly Eastman.

Redshirt junior captain Madeline Strandemo looks to build on her performance at the Big Ten meet on Oct. 30, and be a leading runner for the team at regionals.

“Obviously it would be awesome if we were in the top two at regionals so that we can automatically qualify and not have to wait until Saturday morning to find out if we make it [to the NCAA national meet] or not,” Strandemo said. “[For myself], top 10 would be awesome, maybe even top 5 if I have a really good day.”

Strandemo will go into the NCAA regional after an impressive performance at the Big Ten meet, where she placed 8th and improved from her 20th place finish at the 2015 meet.

“I didn’t know what place I was in. I just looked at the time and I was like ‘Holy crap, I can’t believe that’s my time,’ because I’ve never ran that fast on that course,” Strandemo said. “I was just really happy that I was able to grind it out on our course because I’m more of a track-sided person so all the hills on our course don’t suit me that well.”

The redshirt junior has led by example this season, said head coach Sarah Hopkins.

“She’s not afraid to be a vocal leader. She’s the oldest one in there, so she has to carry that load too, which she’s done a great job of,” Hopkins said. “It’s not about her, it’s about the team.”

Besides her athletic accomplishments, Strandemo strives to be successful in the classroom. The redshirt junior is double-majoring in marketing and Mandarin Chinese — a language that she says she’s proficient in.

“I grew up in China a bit. My dad was in the foreign service so we moved around quite a lot,” Strandemo said. “I started [studying Mandarin Chinese] when I was younger and loved it, so I just tried to keep it up during high school and continued in college.”

Strandemo also studied abroad in Beijing and Taipei, and says those experienced also helped to strengthen her language skills.

The NCAA Regional meet will take place at Ashton Cross Country Course in Iowa City with the women’s 6k race beginning at 11 a.m. and the men’s 10k race beginning at noon.

“We’re not trying to be anybody we’re not,” Hopkins said. “Every person has run the race we need to get to nationals. We just need to put it together so everyone has a good day on the same day.”