Minnesota dominates Oz Memorial

The Gophers scored a perfect 15 points by taking the top five spots in the meet.

Chris Lempesis

Emily Brown, a senior co-captain for Minnesota’s women’s cross country team, said the Gophers set some goals during their recent training camp.

Among them was the goal of sweeping the top five spots at the Oz Memorial Run, held Saturday at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.

Consider that goal met.

Minnesota actually took the top six spots – and 13 of the top 15 – and, by pulling down the top five positions, won the meet with a perfect score of 15 points. The other team in the meet, Drake, finished with 49 points.

“I’m really proud of everybody,” Brown said. “We always want to try to go for the sweep in the meet and we know that (Drake has) a couple good runners so that’s not always possible.”

Brown was included in that top five – winning the race with a time of 20:48.

Brown said that, while she knew the Oz is a low-key race, she wanted to run hard and use it to simulate the kind of conditions she’ll see at the Roy Griak Invitational, to be held Sept. 23 at Bolstad.

Junior Ladia Albertson-Junkans finished second with a time of 21:17. But the fact that Brown and Albertson-Junkans finished one-two for the Gophers isn’t really surprising, considering the pair both earned All-America honors last season.

What is somewhat surprising is the group who took spots three through five for Minnesota.

That group – true freshman Elizabeth Yetzer (third, 21:59.09) and redshirt freshmen Jamie Cheever (fourth, 22:00.96) and Heather Dorniden (fifth, 22:40.61) – had no collegiate cross country experience before Saturday’s meet.

“We knew we had a good degree of talent,” coach Gary Wilson said of his younger runners. “But you never know as a coach Ö because they’re untested.

“It isn’t a surprise but maybe it’s like. ‘Oh wow, OK, they really are (good).’ “

While the amount of inexperience might seem like a detractor, Yetzer said having such a big group of underclassmen has been to the benefit of the younger runners.

“All of us are inexperienced and can learn together and push each other and force each other to be better,” she said.

If the Gophers’ youth continues to improve upon their performance from Saturday, Minnesota could be better in 2006 than it was in 2005. And in 2005, the Gophers finished 12th in the final NCAA Cross Country rankings.

But that won’t be determined for a while. On Saturday, at least, Wilson was optimistic.

“I think we’re going to be pretty darn good,” he said.

Men solid at Indiana Open
Minnesota’s men’s cross country team was also in action Saturday, competing at the Indiana Open in Bloomington, Ind.

While team scores were not kept for the five-team meet – which also included Big Ten foes Indiana and Purdue – the Gophers turned in a strong performance, claiming four of the top 10 spots.

Redshirt freshman Ben Kampf led that foursome, finishing second with a time of 26:07.

Senior David VanOrsdel (26:12) and junior Ed Kibira (26:13) finished fourth and fifth, respectively, and junior Todd Johnson took eighth (26:23).

Coach Steve Plasencia was unavailable for comment.