Gophers repeat as regional champions

With all five of its scorers finishing in the top 20 Saturday, the Minnesota womenâÄôs cross country team had little trouble repeating as NCAA Midwest Region champions. The Gophers tallied 57 combined points to edge out Illinois for the team title. Both teams earned automatic bids to the NCAA championships in Terre Haute, Ind. later this month. Junior Megan Duwell set the tone for Minnesota with a fourth-overall finish, crossing the six kilometer courseâÄôs finish line in 20:45.25. The West Bend, Wis. native has paced the Gophers in every meet this season. Following Duwell, the pack of senior Gabriele Anderson, junior Amy Laskowske and junior Mallory Van Ness crossed in 13th through 15th, respectively. âÄúWe ran a great team race today,âÄù coach Gary Wilson said in a team statement. âÄúWe went in with the plan to run an aggressive race from the start and our pack did a terrific job in sticking together.âÄù Graduate student Felicitas Mensing rounded out the Gophers scoring with an 18th-place finish, beating out Minnesota junior Heather Dorniden by less than two seconds. All six runners earned All-NCAA Region honors. Mead, Rombough pace men A one-two finish by sophomore Hassan Mead and senior Chris Rombough was the driving force in MinnesotaâÄôs second-place finish at SaturdayâÄôs NCAA Midwest Region championship. Two weeks after placing first at the Big Ten championship, Mead paced the field with a time of 31:15.65 although an individual title was never definite, Mead said. âÄúIt was anybodyâÄôs race the last 400 meters,âÄù Mead said. And it was âÄî Mead crossed the finish line just three seconds ahead of Rombough. âÄúWe knew going in that Hassan and Chris could compete at the front of the pack,âÄù coach Steve Plasencia said. âÄúWhat we needed was for our other guys to push forward and they certainly came through for us today.âÄù Like the womenâÄôs program, all five of the menâÄôs runners finished in the top 20. Sophomore Ben Blankenship âÄústepped up,âÄù Plasencia said, with a 12th-place finish âÄî his best since transferring to Minnesota from Mississippi State after last season. Junior Matt Barrett and sophomore Mike Torchia paired up to finish within a second of each other in 19th and 20th, respectively. All five Minnesota competitors earned All-NCAA Region honors, as did sophomore Mike McFarland , who finished 24th but did not factor into the Gophers scoring. Minnesota has nine days off before the NCAA championship in Indiana on Nov. 24. âÄúWeâÄôve been patient in our training,âÄù Mead said. âÄúThe way we raced [Saturday] shows weâÄôre heading down the right path.âÄù