Second six to run for U women’s CC

Ryan Schuster

Four Gophers cross country runners jogged on one side of the street while a fifth ran alone on the other side. Practice had just concluded Wednesday, and the runners were finishing their cool-down jog under a blanket of drizzling rain.
The scene was prophetic of how the team’s 1996 season has gone.
All year sophomore Anna Gullingsrud has led the way for Minnesota. She broke the Minnesota women’s record time at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in consecutive home meets earlier this season. She has placed first on the team in all four invitationals in which she has competed.
It was Gullingsrud who was the runner all alone on the opposite side of the road.
She has, however, had increasing competition from her teammates with each passing week. Her closest opponent on the team is freshman Minna Haronoja.
“(Haronoja’s) got something that you can’t coach,” Minnesota coach Gary Wilson said. “She is steady. Steady as a rock.”
Haronoja has been the Gophers No. 2 runner this season. Last weekend at the Iowa State Memorial Classic in Ames, Iowa, Haronoja’s time was within a minute of Gullingsrud’s for the first time this year.
Minnesota runners Kari Thompson, Karen Kleindl, Andrea Lentz, and Keri Zweig have also been major contributors for the Gophers this season. Now the top athletes, including Gullingsrud and Haronoja, will have to sit and wait for next weekend while a few unheralded runners grab the limelight.
The team’s best six runners will sit out this weekend to rest for the Big Ten Cross Country Championships on Nov. 2 in Bloomington, Ind.
“Were going to run our second group of runners at 50-percent,” Wilson said. “The rest of the kids are going to rest. They need a break and time to regroup.”
A good team performance at this weekend’s meet is not a high priority. Instead, the focus has shifted toward preparation for the Big Tens next weekend. Unlike during the regular season when the team’s top 12 performers can run in each race, the Big Ten meet allows only 10 runners per team.
Wilson believes that there are three or four runners vying for the 10th roster spot.
Sometime next week the decision will be made, and there will once again be one runner on a different side of the street. Only this time it will be in Bloomington, Ind., the site of the Big Tens.