First and fourth place for split squad

Senior Emily Brown won her second race of the year at the SDSU meet.

by Chris Lempesis

Minnesota’s women’s cross country team’s fourth-place

finish at last weekend’s Roy Griak Invitational was a

disappointment for coach Gary Wilson.

Wilson said he thought his runners were perhaps a bit distracted by family and friends in attendance for the home meet and didn’t run as well as they could have.

The Gophers split their team for a pair of road meets this weekend, with things going considerably better – especially Saturday.

Claiming the top four spots, and five of the top 10, Minnesota dominated the South Dakota State Invitational 5K in Brookings, S.D., Saturday. The 19th-ranked Gophers won the meet, which mostly consisted of lower-level teams, with a total of 18 points – very close to a perfect score of 15 points.

“Last week, I thought we ran like a top-20 team at the Griak,” Wilson said. “This week I thought we ran like a top-10 team.”

Leading the way for Minnesota was the same runner

who has been leading the way all season, senior Emily Brown.

Brown, the Gophers’ No. 1 runner, won the meet with a time of 17:08.70.

“Going into the race we were pretty sure that somebody from Minnesota was going to win it,” Brown said, referring to the lower-level competition. “It was just a matter of who it was going to be.”

The win is Brown’s second of the year, as she also won the Oz Memorial Run on Sept. 9.

Those two wins, coupled with her third place finish at the Griak, show that Brown could very well be running deep into November, the month of both the NCAA Midwest Regionals and the NCAA Championships.

“I can’t really gauge anything until I get into the tougher competition and see how I handle things,” Brown said. “Because it’s a lot different racing when you know that you’re probably going to win versus racing when you know you’re going against people that race really tough.”

Of course, on Saturday, Brown was just the pace-setter for a group of Minnesota runners that performed well.

Junior Ladia Albertson-Junkans took second (17:18.50); freshman Elizabeth Yetzer finished third (17:27.10); redshirt freshman Jamie Cheever was fourth (17:27.70); and redshirt freshman Heather Dorniden rounded out the Gophers’ top 10 finishers by taking eighth (17:59.05).

While the competition Saturday was not nearly as top-notch as that at the Griak, the Gophers’ performance in South Dakota could be a sign that the team is quickly putting last weekend’s disappointment behind them.

“We kind of had a rough day out there at the Griak,” sophomore Gabriele Anderson said. “I think this meet was really good for our confidence.”

Fourth place on Friday

The other half of the team competed Friday in the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Invitational.

The group, composed of the Gophers’ more under-the-radar runners, took home a fourth place finish, earning 110 points. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse won the meet with 40 points.

“I thought the Eau Claire kids ran so much better than they did at the Griak,” Wilson said.

Sophomore Kristin Johansen was Minnesota’s top finisher, taking home fourth place (23:00).

According to Wilson, however, the story of the day was the performance of redshirt freshman Clarissa Bootsma, whose 21st place finish (23:58) was second-best for the Gophers. Wilson said Bootsma was actually a swimmer in high school.

“I think this is about her fourth cross country meet,” Wilson said. “It’s very interesting to see what she’s been able to accomplish. She’s going to be excellent.”