Cross country squads take 4th place at Big Ten Championships

The Gophers hosted the Big Ten meet for the first time since 2005 Sunday.

Alyssa Hodenfield

The Minnesota cross country teams had strong showings at the Big
Ten Championships — which they hosted for the first time in 11 years — at Les
Bolstad Course on Sunday.

The Gophers women’s team took fourth with 120 points in the 6K
race and beat Ohio State (130) for the spot by 10 points.

“Overall I thought it was a good day for the team,” said redshirt
junior Madeline Strandemo.  “We didn’t
get beat by any bad teams — obviously those were three really good teams, so I
think we were happy with that.”

Michigan Senior Erin Finn took first place individually to secure
her third Big Ten Championship title and helped lead the Wolverines to a team
win.

She finished about 25 seconds ahead of the second place runner.

Minnesota had three runners place in the top 20. Redshirt junior
Madeline Strandemo led the team in eighth (21:10.2), followed by freshman Megan
Hasz in 11th (21:24.9) and freshman Bethany Hasz in 20th (21:41.5).

Strandemo was pleased with her performance and moved up from a 20th
place finish last year at the 2015 Big Ten Championship.

“I thought Madeline Strandemo really had the best cross country
race of her career. This course probably suits her the least well out of
anybody on our team, but that just shows her toughness level and how much she’s
matured from last year to this year,” said head coach Sarah Hopkins.

The Minnesota men’s cross country team took fourth in the 8K race
with 119 points and pulled ahead of Michigan (123) by a slim four points.

“Overall I think things are starting to come together for us
today,” said head coach Steve Plasencia.  “Of course we’d like be in the mix for the
championship, but we’re young. We graduate nobody, and so we’re just not quite
there yet.”

Minnesota placed three runners in the top 15. Redshirt junior
Charlie Lawrence came in ninth (24:54.9) to improve from his 32nd place finish
at the 2015 Big Ten Championships.

Lawrence was followed by redshirt junior Matt Welch (24:57.2) and
redshirt freshman Connor Olson (24:59.1).

“[It] felt pretty good. Personally, coming in you always want to
score as low as you can for the team, and I think I did that today,” Lawrence
said.

Junior Obsa Ali — who is usually a front-runner for the team — finished
the race 72nd.  Ali finished 14th at the
2015 Big Ten Championships. The junior was sick a couple days before the 2016
championships, Plasencia said.

The women’s team will run in Rocky’s Run and the men’s team will
run in the Fall Finale this weekend before heading to the NCAA Midwest Regional
meet in Iowa City on Nov. 11.

“They’ve trained hard. They’ve put in a lot of hard work, and now
it’s just really all about getting recovered and rested,” Hopkins said. “We’re
a step closer to that, but we’ve got two more weeks to get even fresher and go
into Iowa and give it a run again.”