Midway through the women’s cross country team’s season, its greatest foe seems to be the team’s health, not their opponents on the course.
Saturday at the Auburn Invitational in Auburn, Ala., Minnesota placed eighth out of 42 teams, despite competing without the team’s best runner.
Sophomore Anna Gullingsrud did not make the trip to Alabama on Friday morning because she was sick with the flu.
“She came up real sick on Friday morning and couldn’t go,” coach Gary Wilson said. “We would have probably been fourth with her. With Gullingsrud, and our top five running seven seconds faster, we would have been in third place.”
Gullingsrud joined teammates Andrea Lentz and Keri Zweig as Gophers runners who have suffered from flu-like symptoms this season.
Wilson was not particularly pleased with his team’s performance over the weekend.
“We didn’t run real well,” Wilson said. “We’re tired and a lot of people have been sick. We closed well and passed a lot of people, but we need to be stronger in the middle of the race.”
In Gullingsrud’s absence, freshman Minna Haronoja was the Gophers’ top finisher, taking 35th place with a time of 18:11 in the 5,000-meter race.
Gophers junior Kari Thompson finished just a second behind Haronoja in 36th place.
“I knew (Haronoja) was probably about 15 to 20 seconds behind me with 20 to 50 meters left to go, and she just flew past me,” Thompson said. “She has a great kick at the end.”
Gophers Karen Kleindl, Julie Golla, Bridget Neutgens, Amy Hoel and Janet Howe all finished in the top 100 in the race. Danielle Giusti took 113th, Andrea Lentz was 116th, Gillian Haro finished 146th, and Keri Zweig finished out the scoring in 256th place for Minnesota.
Wilson has decided to give the team Monday and Tuesday off from practice to help them recover from their ailments and minor bumps and bruises.
“We’re taking two days completely off to regroup physically and mentally for the end of the season,” Wilson said. “The team just needed a break. They have done everything I’ve asked of them — and more.”
Junior Amy Dahle led Minnesota’s women’s golf team to a first-place showing at the Wildcat Invitational hosted by Northwestern University over the weekend.
Dahle set the Lake Shore Country Club women’s record with a five-under-par 70 on her second of three rounds, then captured the tournament title with a total score of one over.
The Gophers finished first out of six teams with a score of 28-over.
All seven of Minnesota’s competitors placed in the top 13 out of 39 golfers. Carolyn Klecker tied for fifth, Cathy Lindblad was tied for seventh, Melanie Lepp tied for 10th, Donna Boom took 12th and Keri Sawvell finished in a 13th-place tie for the Gophers.