Women host Oz Memorial while men travel to Indiana

Minnesota beat Drake and Minnesota State-Mankato at the Oz Memorial last year.

Chris Lempesis

One of Minnesota’s women’s cross country team’s captains, senior Lisa Remark, said last weekend’s Maroon/Gold intrasquad run showed the team has a lot of promise heading into the 2006 season.

That might be true, but it’s hard to learn a ton about a team – especially one that’s on the younger side like Minnesota – when it isn’t facing any actual competition, on a course that’s smaller than one it would normally compete on.

Those two things will change this weekend, though, as the Gophers host the Oz Memorial Run at the Les Bolstad Golf Course Saturday at 11 a.m.

Minnesota will compete against Drake University – Minnesota State-Mankato dropped out of the event – on a six-kilometer course as opposed to the five-kilometer course for the intrasquad run.

“It’s a good kind of transition Ö from a high school (meet) to a college (meet),” said Remark, who won’t be competing in the meet because she’s recovering from a hip injury. “It’s kind of low-key, but it’s a good race to get in before the (Roy Griak Invitational Sept. 23).”

The low-key atmosphere should help the team gain some extra comfort, an important thing for Minnesota because of the nature of the team.

The Gophers seem to have a lot of talent, but most of it is inexperienced and the chance to run against another team should benefit those underclassmen.

“It definitely gives a little different vibe,” Remark said. “Last week, during the intrasquad, we weren’t in uniforms and it was kind of, in a sense, a warm-up race.”

Minnesota will be feeling the “different vibe” on a course that’s the size of those the team will run on all season. This should also help to provide more experience for the Gophers.

One of those runners who should specifically benefit from Saturday’s run is redshirt freshman Jamie Cheever. Cheever played on the Gophers’ soccer team last season and has no collegiate cross country experience, last Saturday’s meet notwithstanding.

Cheever said she definitely thinks the race will only help her to grow.

“I’m a little nervous,” Cheever admitted. “But I’m also very excited.”

Men at Indiana Open

Minnesota’s men’s cross country team already had its first race against outside competition at last weekend’s St. Thomas Early Bird meet in St. Paul.

The Gophers will, however, head out on the road for the first time this weekend as they take part in the five-team Indiana Open on Saturday in Bloomington, Ind.

Big Ten foes Indiana and Purdue are among the teams Minnesota will be competing against.

Coach Steve Plasencia said he will take a group of just six runners to the meet – none of whom competed last weekend. The group is mostly composed of lesser-known names.

But that doesn’t mean he’s not expecting anything from them.

“I’m looking for a couple of these guys to step in and be leaders for us this week,” Plasencia said, “and go out and run with some of the top runners from the other schools.”