At the start of the 1999 cross country season, senior Jeremy Polson decided to redshirt and work on becoming a stronger runner.
But with the Minnesota men’s cross country team in dire need of another solid runner, Polson dropped the redshirt designation and is back running for the Gophers.
“I asked Jeremy to come back and race for us this year,” coach Steve Plasencia said. “If I would have had the luxury to redshirt him, I would.”
Polson wanted the redshirt so he could run with the team next year, but when he saw the team needed him, he wanted to come back.
“I asked Steve if I could redshirt because I wanted to be here and take it easy,” Polson said. “Everything was going too fast, and since most guys do take a redshirt year, I decided I would do it.”
“He wanted to redshirt, and with all the alternating redshirts I decided to grant him it,” Plasencia said.
But right after the Roy Griak Invitational a few weeks ago, Polson met with Plasencia, and they both came to the decision that it would be smart for him to run this year and use his last year of eligibility.
“There are a number of reasons why I asked Jeremy back; we needed him and Jeremy was willing to do it,” Plasencia said. “We are a little thin this year — Eric Hartmark decided not to run.”
Polson ran in the “B” race at the invitational and finished third.
Polson’s first race with Minnesota was last weekend in the Pre-NCAA cross country meet in Bloomington, Ind.
Polson ran well, placing 44th with a time of 25:04.49, only 19 seconds behind top Gophers finisher Eric Pierce.
“I didn’t feel great during the Pre-NCAA, but I still ran pretty well,” Polson said.
Polson’s redshirt began after the ’98 cross country season and continued through the indoor and outdoor track and field season from January through May.
“Steve and I looked at the big picture and compared this year and next year and decided it was a good choice to make,” Polson said.
But even with the time off from the redshirt, Polson remained firm in his decision.
“I never second-guessed my decision, even with the chance of possible injuries throughout the year,” said Polson.
But one question that concerned both coach and runner alike was: Would Polson be able to jump back into the mix?
The answer has been a resounding yes.
“He is fine, in good shape and is running well in practice,” said Plasencia. “He runs right with Pierce during the drills.”
“Besides not running in the big Griak race, I haven’t missed anything. I do everything with the team,” Polson said. “I’ve been training right through it.”
With Polson back, the Gophers hope they have a solid one-two punch with Pierce and Polson leading the way.
“We have a pretty strong team. I think we have a really good chance to win the districts and go to nationals,” Polson said.