Minnesota women take first at SDSU, second at Eau Claire

The Gophers recorded a near-perfect score of 18 at SDSU.

Dane Mizutani

MinnesotaâÄôs womenâÄôs cross country team dominated its first encounter with a flat course this season, winning the South Dakota State Invitational on Saturday with a near-perfect team score of 18 points.

âÄúWe had a good meet,âÄù head coach Gary Wilson said. âÄúEverybody was tough today. Everyone fought the whole way and moved up. It was a great effort.âÄù

All-American Steph Price captured her second title of the season in South Dakota. She won the meet and finished the 5,000-meter course with a time of 17 minutes, 19 seconds.

Missa Varpness found her way back to the front of the pack after falling behind at both the Oz Memorial and the Roy Griak Invitational earlier in the season. Varpness finished second overall and 13 seconds behind Price.

âÄúI thought Missa Varpness ran a great race,âÄù assistant coach Sarah Hesser said. âÄúShe was really patient, whereas she has been a little impatient the last couple weeks. She really showed herself she can still run really well if she starts off a little slower.âÄù 

Molly Kayfes (fourth), Laura Docherty (fifth), Ashlie Decker (sixth), and Katie Moraczewski (seventh) rounded out the top finishers for the Gophers. Twelve Minnesota runners placed in the top-20. 

âÄúThe best thing about today was we only had [a] 28-second split between our first and sixth runner,âÄù Wilson said.

Success running on a relatively flat course bodes well for the team, as the remainder of its schedule is loaded with flat courses âÄî most notably the Big Ten championships at Illinois on Oct. 30.

Other team members competed at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational on Friday.

These runners battled for the final two spots on the roster that Minnesota will take to the Adidas Invitational in Madison, Wis., in two weeks.

Liz Berkholtz won the meet running unattached for the Gophers with a time of 22 minutes, 9 seconds.

Kaila Urick and Kate Bucknam finished third and fourth and also ran unattached.

Andrea Rediger took sixth as MinnesotaâÄôs first official finisher. She was running in uniform and Berkholtz, Urick and Bucknam were not.

âÄúOverall we were really pleased with what they did,âÄù Hesser said. âÄúIt was a good meet after a big week of training for us.

âÄúWe didnâÄôt really pull back for this meet at all, so the fact that people went in there and ran [personal bests] or close to [personal bests] was definitely impressive given the week of training they had.âÄù

Hesser said the team will take next weekend off and forego their scheduled meet at the University of Minnesota-Duluth Invitational in preparation for the Adidas Invitational.