With Big Ten Championships in sight, Gophers finish strong in Wisconsin Nuttycombe

Senior Obsa Ali finished first among Gophers’ runners and 29th among the field.

Obsa Ali competes during the Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Courtney Deutz

Obsa Ali competes during the Roy Griak Invitational at the Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Anthony Bryant

With the end of the season in sight, the Gophers proved that they are a force to be reckoned with heading into the postseason.

Minnesota finished 12th in the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational at the Thomas Zimmer Cross Country Course Friday with an overall score of 413 points. Senior Obsa Ali led the way for the team in 29th place and a time of 24:07.9 in the eight kilometer race.

“[Obsa Ali] did great,” said director Steve Plasencia. “He was the national qualifier for the outdoor track last year, and now in cross country, he’s carrying it over and running away. I don’t think he ran out of his head. I think there’s still more there.”

Evan Ferlic followed Ali with a 79th-place finish and a time of 24:34.5 — his career best in the 8K.  This became a theme for the Gophers runners, as everyone inside the top five posted career best 8K times, excluding Obsa Ali. Hamza Ali (24:38.6), Derek Wiebke (24:48.6), and Alec Basten (24:51.8) finished 89th, 105th, and 111th to round out the runners that scored points for the team.

No. 1 Northern Arizona lived up to its ranking and finished in first place with an overall score of 50 points. No. 2 Portland (123), No. 3 Syracuse  (151), No. 4 Stanford (155) and No. 5 Furman (157) placed in the top five.

Minnesota will take a week-long break and come back Oct. 29 for the Big Ten Championships as the season creeps closer to its end. With a 12th-place finish, Plasencia said the unranked Gophers have a lot to be excited about.

“This meet, with 35 teams, 22 are ranked in the top 30,” Plasencia said. “So, we beat nine ranked teams on Friday, which was a nice breakthrough for our group.”