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Castanias leads pack as top runners rest for Big Tens

Freshman Emily Castanias placed first among women competing Saturday.

The Gophers’ top runners were resting last weekend, but multiple members of the team’s second group set personal records at Jack’s Twilight Run on

The unit was led by freshman Emily Castanias, who ran unattached and finished first among all women with a time of 22:03.4 in the 6K.

Redshirt freshman Madeline Strandemo wasn’t far behind, finishing second among women at 22:10.1. Freshman Patty O’Brien followed, also running unattached.

Head coach Sarah Hopkins said she was pleased with the team’s performance at the meet.

“I thought we did a really nice job. We had a lot of kids really take it seriously and really fought hard. … You saw a lot of fight coming down the home stretch,” Hopkins said.

The race took place at night, which Strandemo said helped give the team energy.

“I think it helped with the excitement,” she said.

Hopkins also said racing at night instead of during the day was a good and different experience for the team.

“I think it’s just fun. It makes it feel a little different, it makes it look different, so it kind of has a different vibe to it,” Hopkins said. “… Any time you can throw something different at people, it’s a fun situation.”

The Gophers’ multiple personal records at the meet were in part due to the race taking place at night, Castanias said.

“By the end, it was so dark [that] you didn’t really know how fast you’re going or how fast your legs were actually moving,” she said.

Another factor that made the race unique was the course’s different style.

It was looped, which gave the crowd the chance to cheer for the runners as they ran by.

“I think everyone I saw that was cheering was cheering crazy loud because everyone was constantly running by them,” Castanias said. “… It was really nice to be able to hear people.”

Hopkins also said the spectators were a big part of the team’s success.

“I think doing a looped course like we did, where they’re really in the same area for the majority of the race, the spectators are able to be in more places and be yelling and screaming,” Hopkins said.

The Gophers rested their Big Ten roster at the meet so that those runners will be fresh for the Big Ten championships this weekend.

Hopkins said she thinks the team will be prepared to have a strong finish to its season.

“We should be in a good spot to have a good last four weeks of the season,” she said.

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