Basten embracing success at Minnesota, named Big Ten Athlete of the Week

The redshirt junior broke a school record in the eight-kilometer race earlier in the month.

The Gophers men's cross country team merges with the field at the beginning of the 2019 Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. The men's team placed 7th in the Division 1 race.

Kamaan Richards

The Gophers men’s cross country team merges with the field at the beginning of the 2019 Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. The men’s team placed 7th in the Division 1 race.

Brendan O'Brien

Entering the 2019 cross country season, redshirt junior Alec Basten expected to build off a successful year in cross country along with track and field.

However, Basten did not compete in the Oz Memorial or the Roy Griak Invitational earlier in the season due to an extended track and field season, as he competed in the 2019 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships. He and his coaches wanted him to recover and be fully prepared for the cross country season.

“We wanted to take a little more time to build to where we would be confident we could put together a race that I could be proud of,” Basten said. “So that bit of extra time to get into the swing of things was important.”

The race Basten and his coaches can be proud of came at Lehigh’s Paul Short Run earlier this month. Basten broke the University’s record in the eight-kilometer race with a time of 23:26.7.

Hassan Mead was the previous record holder in the eight-kilometer race for the Gophers. Mead clocked 23:29 in the race at the 2011 Big Ten championships.

Mead is considered a legendary runner by the track and field and cross country programs. During his time at Minnesota, Mead was an eight-time All-American and nine-time Big Ten champion and competed in the Olympics in 2016. All of this makes breaking Mead’s record more important to Basten.

“Coming into the University I could only hope that I would one day be mentioned in the same sentence as the Gopher great Olympian,” Basten said. “It was a huge honor.”

The Big Ten Conference named Basten the Big Ten Athlete of the Week in the sport last week. Basten’s record-breaking performance was nearly 20 seconds faster than his previous eight-kilometer personal record.

Despite his personal success, Basten is focused on helping the team have a successful remainder of the season. The men’s cross country team has not qualified for the NCAA Championship meet since 2015. 

“We had a lot of guys get some really great training in this summer and really stayed on top of injuries,” Basten said. “We’re pretty healthy at this point and I think that that’s going to be very important moving forward … We’re doing the work and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”

Basten and the rest of the men’s team travels to Indiana for the Pre-National Invitational hosted by Indiana State Sat. October 19. After that meet, the Gophers will compete in the Big Ten championships on Nov. 3 and the NCAA Midwest Regional on Nov. 15.