Transfer helps women run to top

Ryan Schuster

After finishing in fifth place in the Big Ten last season and losing their top runner from a year ago, the women’s cross country team looked to be in the midst of a rebuilding season.
All-District and All-Big Ten runner Lori Townsend departed after her eligibility ran out last season. However, instead of having to start over, the Gophers are looking good.
Enter sophomore Anna Gullingsrud, a transfer from Purdue. Suddenly, Minnesota’s outlook has turned from bleak to promising.
The Gophers may not finish ahead of Michigan, Wisconsin or Penn State, which are all ranked in the preseason top 25, but they are on their way.
“The top three in the Big Ten is the team’s goal,” said head coach Gary Wilson. I told them the top four is a more realistic goal for us. We can beat Penn State on a good day, but we’re not going to beat Wisconsin and Michigan.”
Minnesota lost only one senior to graduation last year in Townsend, and they have already replaced her with Gullingsrud, who won the team’s intrasquad scrimmage and the meet against Drake and Arkansas to start the year.
Her time of 17:24 on Sept. 13 was a course record at the 5,000-meter Les Bolstad Golf Course. She beat Townsend’s best time by a second.
Also, freshman runner Minna Haronoja has emerged as the team’s number-two weapon. Haronoja took fifth in the Drake and Arkansas triangular meet in a time of 18:21.
“I think Minna’s going to be strong along with Keri Zweig and Karen Kleindl,” Wilson said. “Minna and Gullingsrud will be our top runners, but the rest of the team will be strong as well.”
Zweig and Kleindl are both senior captains for Minnesota and bring much-needed depth and experience to the team.
Julie Golla, who took 30th last year at the Big Ten meet came on strong last year as a freshmen and will continue to improve as a sophomore.
Kari Thompson, a junior from Alexandria, has recovered completely from several injuries that nagged her last year.
Thompson and seniors Janet Howe and Bridget Neutgens will provide stability to coach Wilson’s program this season.
“I think we have an outside chance of making the NCAA meet,” Wilson said. “We’d have to beat some teams in the Roy Griak Invitational to do it, though.”
The Gophers will host that meet on Sept. 28 at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.
Notes: Coach Gary Wilson said Aimee Daugs, a freshman from Wisconsin who won the state cross country title last year, will be redshirted. He also confirmed that he is recruiting Daphne Panyhuisen, the Dutch national record holder in the 1,500 and 3,000 meters.