Determined Eggleston leads hopeful Gophers runners

by David La

After three years on the women’s cross country team, Minnesota’s Elaine Eggleston has a new perspective for her last.
Though she ran to all-Midwest Regional and second-team all-Big Ten honors in her sophomore and juniors seasons, respectively, Eggleston wants to see what lies over the horizon of her ability.
“This year I’ve really started thinking of races in terms of not how fast I go, but seeing how far I can push myself,” Eggleston said.
It’s the same philosophy Eggleston employed as an admittedly average freshman track athlete at Roseville Area high school.
On lap three of a four-lap, one-mile race, the leader found her kick and attempted to pull away. Eggleston followed suit.
“She started picking up the pace,” Eggleston said. “So I started picking up the pace with her. I dropped 30 seconds off my mile time.”
Though she’d swam in the fall season as a freshman, Eggleston was advised to switch to cross country as a sophomore. The change stuck.
“I love the strategy (of cross country),” Eggleston. “Not just challenging other runners but also the course, because every course is different.”
She went on to be a three-time all-state performer, after starting out as a “little skinny ninth-grader who people saw running around.”
Eggleston enters her senior year at Minnesota as a co-captain, sharing duties with Rachel Domenichetti and Corrine Nimtz.
The trio leads a Gophers program that finished 17th at the NCAA meet last season. On the heels of that performance — Minnesota’s best in 16 years — the team entered the 2000 season ranked No. 23, and has since moved up to 13th, with a chance to move further up the ladder at the prestigious Roy Griak Invitational this weekend.
The Gophers will run against 13 teams ranked in the Top-25, including Wisconsin — Big Ten champions five years running.
After finishing third at the Griak last year, another strong showing by the Minnesota contingent would make an impression. As of now, the Badgers are already looking over their shoulder.
“I’ve noticed the Wisconsin coach (Peter Tegen) looking my way and pointing at me,” Eggleston said. “So I think he knows who I am.”
More importantly, Eggleston knows herself and is taking a solid mental approach into each race.
“If you’re running three and three-quarter miles as fast as you can and you’re trying to beat other people, you have to really believe in yourself,” Eggleston said.
As captain Eggleston goes, so should her team be inclined to follow. After finishing 92nd at the NCAA last season, Eggleston is aiming for a “top-50 in the national meet.”
“Since cross country is my favorite sport and the national meet is most important, that’s my goal.”

David La Vaque welcomes comments at [email protected]