Women dominate Oz; men struggle

Gophers runners posted the top 11 times in the women’s race.

by Drew Claussen

Out of the top 20 finishers in the women’s cross country race at the Oz Memorial last Friday, only three did not don maroon and gold.

The Gophers produced the top 11 finishers and 17 of the top 20 in the race held Friday at Les Bolstad Golf Course.

“They came in and put the pedal to the metal and focused and ran well,” head coach Gary Wilson said.

Junior Laura Docherty finished first with a time of 21 minutes, 31 seconds in the six-kilometer race, which was run in cool, windy conditions.

Molly Kayfes, Ashlie Decker, Katie Moraczewski and Rachel Drake finished second through fifth, respectively.

“Once we separated [from the pack], I was like, ‘just stay with [Docherty], keep the distance, don’t let it get too big,’” Kayfes said. “I just feel like I need these first few races just to get them under my belt and build my confidence.”

Minnesota as a team averaged a time of 21 minutes, 48 seconds, which was almost a full two minutes better than second-place Drake.

Wilson highlighted the team’s communication and teamwork throughout the race as a positive.

“Those kids will be able to hook up with each other, and even though there might be 20 people around them, if they have a teammate, they might be able to bring them along,” Wilson said. “That was really good today — I was very pleased with that.”

Men struggle without top runners

The Gophers men’s team did not fare as well as the women’s squad — which was expected, as the team’s top runners did not participate.

Alex Brend was the only Minnesota runner to finish in the top 10 of the event, which Minnesota State-Mankato won. University of Northern Iowa’s Brett Egan won the race individually.

“A couple guys ran well, but if we’re going to come to this [race], I’ve got to figure out if maybe we’ve got to put a little more in,” head coach Steve Plasencia said.

The men’s race paled in comparison to the size of the women’s race because the entire event was organized by the women’s team.

That being said, Plasencia still wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.

“I don’t feel very good about [the race], and that will go away in about two hours,” Plasencia said post-race. “If it was a big meet and we didn’t do well, it wouldn’t go away for a lot of hours.

“We’ve got a program that’s got a little pride in itself, and to come out and place fourth in this meet is not what we’re used to.”