Intrasquad meet gives Gophers runners kick start

Molly Kayfes and Laura Docherty were the team’s top-two finishers.

Betsy Helfand

Junior Molly Kayfes and senior Laura Docherty led the way as the Gophers women’s cross country team kicked off its season Friday in the Intrasquad 5K Meet.

Aside from Kayfes and Docherty, 11 other Gophers finished the race in less than 20 minutes, and head coach Sarah Hopkins said she loved how “under control” the team was.

“Nobody really went to the well,” Hopkins said. “They got a really good race feel where they remembered what it’s like to hurt. That’s the hardest part coming out of summer.”

The Intrasquad Meet differed from summer training in that the runners “never really press that hard” in summer practice, Hopkins said.

“You have to remember that ‘OK, I can start hurting, and I can keep pressing through that,’” she said.

Kayfes said many runners had big jumps in times and she could see the team’s progress.

The redshirt sophomore class in particular stuck out to Hopkins. She said the coaches had a talk with the group last season and were impressed by the runners’ collective performance in their first action of the season.

“I think they’re taking … that very seriously [and] they’re really coming in this year with their game faces,” Hopkins said.

She said they might not be in the top-seven finishers on the squad yet, but they can be in the top-20 and “put themselves in position, where next year they can pick up that torch.”

Three redshirt sophomores—Liz Berkholtz, Becca Dyson and Kate Bucknam—finished the meet with sub-20-minute times.

The Gophers enter the season ranked No. 19 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association and are the top-ranked team in the Midwest region.

Minnesota begins its regular season on Sept. 6 with the Oz Memorial.