Having its top 11 runners out of Saturday’s UMD Pine Hills Invitational didn’t stop Minnesota’s women’s cross country team from continuing its winning ways.
Resting up for the pre-NCAA meet this Saturday, those 11 gave way to 12 of their teammates, who were fighting for the 12th and final spot at the pre-National meet.
Without missing a step, the Gophers dominated a field of Division II and III schools en route to an expected, yet still-impressive, victory.
Minnesota, which won the race last year, triumphed again with a near-perfect 18 points. The Gophers’ next closest competition – host Minnesota-Duluth – had 49 points.
“We ran gutty the whole time,” coach Gary Wilson said.
Freshman Gabriele Anderson earned her first-ever collegiate victory with a time of 22:37 on the 6K course.
The rest of the Gophers, including second-place finisher Annie Wells, a Minnesota Daily employee, took seven of the top nine spots. The only spoiler was Minnesota-Duluth’s Erin Foss in third place.
Finishing in fourth for Minnesota was sophomore Stacia Kalinoski.
Senior Paula Hoffert and junior Amy Lindner finished fifth and sixth, respectively.
Kim Magee, Jena Trask, and Jamie Rooney rounded out the top nine for Minnesota.
The only other non-Minnesota runner in the top 12 besides Foss was Michigan Tech’s Tara Hansen, who placed 10th.
After the race, Wilson said he has decided who his 12th runner will be next weekend but wanted to annouce it to the team first – at practice Monday – before releasing it to the public.
Although one might expect to see a lot of effort out of a group of women fighting for one final spot, Wilson said, getting this level of effort out of a team was a welcomed rarity.
“I’ve never had a team where all 12 runners put it out there like that,” Wilson said. “They really raced.”
With the victory, Minnesota has now won all of its races except the Griak Invitational, in which it took 13th.
Granted, its competition hasn’t been of the sort it will have to beat in the most important races. But Wilson said having his women run the way they did Saturday was very encouraging.
“It’s a pretty good spur for the kids going to pre-Nationals,” he said.
Having something to spur them onward will be a blessing to the Gophers next weekend when they face off against the nation’s top competition – teams such as No. 1 Stanford, No. 3 Michigan and No. 4 Colorado.
But Wilson is not backing down, using strong words and giving a simple strategy for his team.
“You’ve got to go out there and go after it,” he said. “Don’t run like a wimp.”