Patience pays off for three runners

The Gophers have three runners who redshirted last year making an impact.

Tommy Jaakola

Patience has been a big factor in the brief University of Minnesota cross country careers of redshirt freshmen Tamara Gorman, Courtney Alama and Patty O’Brien. 
 
All three redshirted their first year, meaning they ran unattached for a year. They were allowed to compete in meets, but they had no effect on the team’s score.
 
“It was a lot different because I wasn’t a huge impact on the team,” Alama said. “It motivates me now, wearing the jersey. Whatever I do affects Minnesota.” 
 
Despite not making an effect for the Gophers, Alama said her year running unattached was a learning experience.
 
“You’re not in uniform as an unattached runner, so you feel like an oddball,” O’Brien said. “It’s weird. You don’t get to score any points. It’s like I’m on the team, but it doesn’t get to show up on paper.”
 
A stress fracture prevented Gorman from even running unattached last year.
 
Now in their second year, all three runners are competing for the team and have shown promise.
 
In the first big race of the year, the Oz Memorial, Gorman finished third for the Gophers and seventh overall. Meanwhile, Alama finished fifth on the team and 12th overall, followed by O’Brien, who came in sixth for the Gophers and 16th overall. 
 
Although Minnesota featured all its top returning runners save redshirt sophomore Danielle Anderson, all three young runners were able to finish in the top seven on the team. 
 
Not only have their results encouraged head coach Sarah Hopkins, but they have the runners feeling good as well.
 
“I’m in way better racing shape than I was in last year. Coming off the summer, I’ve never really gone hardcore training like that, and now I’ve got a whole year of University of
Minnesota training under my belt,” Alama said. “I feel confident when I step onto the line because of all these workouts. I’ve put in all the work.”
 
The top nine runners for the team travel to their meets around the region, Alama said, and for now, all three redshirt freshmen are in that group.
 
Alama said she hopes to stay in the top nine for the rest of the season, while O’Brien has even loftier goals.
 
“My top individual goal would be to score for the team and get into the top five and make it to the Big Tens, regionals and nationals,” O’Brien said.
 
Although all three runners had to wait for success to come, they’re enjoying being part of the team now.
 
“A lot of people don’t just choose to run distance for fun,” O’Brien said. “It’s so much more fun when you have everyone there who loves to do it too, and we all just relate so much and work hard and push each other.”