Lawrence gets off to quick start

Charlie Lawrence finished fifth in his first official race with the Gophers.

Aidan Coleman

“Redshirt freshman” and “fifth place” are two things that usually don’t appear in the same sentence.

Don’t tell that to Charlie Lawrence.

Lawrence placed fifth at the UC Riverside Invitational, the team’s most recent competition. He was the second Gophers finisher, behind junior Aaron Bartnik.

“It’s pretty exciting for the whole team,” junior Adam Zutz said.

Lawrence said he was excited to help Minnesota get its first victory of the season, in what also happened to be his first official collegiate meet.

“Getting to finally have Minnesota across my chest was one of the best feelings ever,” Lawrence said. “I definitely enjoyed it.”

Head coach Steve Plasencia said he has noticed the competitiveness in Lawrence, which has helped him find himself as a runner.

“Charlie wants to do well, very well,” Plasencia said. “I think [Lawrence] even looks at himself as an underdog so he has to try harder.”

With a young team, the Gophers will most likely need production from their underclassmen if they hope to vie for a spot at the NCAA championships in November.

Plasencia said Lawrence’s success might give confidence to other underclassmen.

“It gives them a boot in the ass,” he said. “Some guys came in here thinking ‘Charlie Lawrence would never beat me,’ and then Charlie Lawrence stepped up and kicked their fannies.”

Lawrence said he felt the pressure to give a strong performance at the Gophers’ first road meet of the season, even though he’s one of the youngest runners on the team.

He seemed to display a confidence that is rare in underclassmen competing for the first time.

 But that confidence doesn’t save him from some friendly ribbing.

“Kaila Urick on the women’s team said, ‘Oh, you look like a sloth,’” Lawrence said. “But with my hair, I guess I still look 14 or 15.”

With the Gophers’ biggest race of the season so far coming up on Saturday at the Roy Griak Invitational, Lawrence will have another chance to stand out.

“I like to put the pressure on myself to perform well,” Lawrence said. “If it’s not in the cards, then it’s not. But I’m going to bring my game every time.”