Both teams take third at Big Ten championships

Both teams take third at Big Ten championships

Derek Wetmore

MADISON, Wisc. âÄì Both the menâÄôs and womenâÄôs cross country teams took third place Sunday at the Big Ten championships, highlighted by Stephanie PriceâÄôs record-setting (sort of) second-place finish at WisconsinâÄôs new Zimmer Championships Course. Price finished in 19 minutes, 56 seconds, just two seconds behind the first-place runner. It is the first sub-20 minute time on a six kilometer course in team history, but the team is hesitant to use the term âÄúrecordâÄù since the first-year course yielded faster times across the board. Regardless, the finish netted Price first-team All-American honors. Missa Varpness and Nikki Swenson were named to the second team. In the first Big Ten race of their collegiate career, both Varpness and Ashlie Decker finished inside the top 20. Ben Blankenship was the menâÄôs top finisher, taking third in a thrilling finish. He was part of a pack of four that broke away from the rest of the field with about 1,600 meters remaining, and in a final sprint he finished less than a second behind both the first and second place finishers. The menâÄôs team was coming off a disappointing 12th place finish at the pre-NCAA meet, and the quality showing in Madison helped them regain some confidence. âÄúOftentimes I feel like the seeds for a good race are planted by a bad race,âÄù menâÄôs head coach Steve Plasencia said. âÄúOur guys came away re-focused after the pre-nationals meet.âÄù Added Blankenship: âÄúI think after our last performance with everyone kind of blowing up and running idiotic âÄî especially on my part âÄî we came out and showed weâÄôre still Minnesota and we come out to ride.âÄù WomenâÄôs head coach Gary Wilson said he was pleased with the performance of his team âÄî which, unlike the men, had a strong showing at pre-NCAAs âÄî and that everyone finished within a few places of where he expected them to. âÄúWhen you finish in third by two points, of course there are a million places you could look at for where you could have picked up those points,âÄù he said. âÄúBut, I couldnâÄôt be prouder of this team.âÄù