Women cross country team places sixth, men’s team takes seventh at Big Tens

The University of Minnesota cross country program competed at the 2018 Big Ten Cross Country Championships meet on Sunday morning in Lincoln, NE. Beforehand, women’s team head coach Sarah Hopkins previewed the meet.

“I think on any given day there are six teams that all have a shot. I’ve told the team all year we could be a really really good sixth place team, which doesn’t sound good to most people, and [still] be a top-15 team in the country; or we could win the thing,” said coach Hopkins. “We’ve put ourselves in a position to be in the conversation and for the women that’s all I could ask of them is to be in a position to see what we can do. If we do that and we execute there’s nothing to be disappointed about even if we are  sixth…. that’s par at this point for what the rankings are and we’re trying to out shoot the par.”

Coming off of a second place team finish last year at the Big Ten Cross Country Championships, the women’s team took sixth place overall on Sunday morning. For fifth year senior Patty O’Brien, Sunday marked the final Big Ten cross country championship race of her career. However, before the race O’Brien was not at all nostalgic. 

“I’m just excited for it to be my last Big Tens race. I want to go out there, have fun, and just see what I can do; to lay it all out there on the line,” said O’Brien. “It’s not something that should add pressure because it’s the last one, I know a lot of people go into last ones thinking this is my last chance, but I think it’s one more chance to go out there and have some fun.”

Holding true to this, O’Brien finished the race 3rd amongst the Gophers, and in 48th place overall, with a time of 21:31.5. Two of O’Brien’s teammates entered the meet with a chance to win it all, and they did not disappoint. Bethany and Megan Hasz finished in fifth and 12th place respectively, in times of 20:14.1 and 20:30.5.

In the men’s race, Alex Basten lead his team. Basten finished in a time of 23:45.1 which was good for eighth place overall. 

The men’s team had already raced on this course earlier in the season when they placed 1st out of nine teams at the Greeno/Dirksen Invitational. On Sunday they took seventh place in the team standings. Behind Basten, Gophers Evan Ferlic (16th) and Jack Manderscheid (31st) also finished in the top-50.

Minnesota’s program will have some time to regroup before advancing to the NCAA Midwest Regionals meet in Peoria, Ill on Nov. 9th. Until then, some athletes will compete on Nov 2nd at Saint John’s University’s Fall Finale meet, and then on Nov 4th at home in Rocky’s Run.