Ferlic finishes first for men’s cross country Friday at Fall Finale

The women’s team competed at home in the Rocky’s Run Sunday morning.

by Thomas Jaakola

A Gophers runner took first for the fourth year in a row at the Fall Finale on Friday evening at St. Johns University. 
Minnesota freshman Connor Olson, running unattached, led the pack with an 8-kilometer time of 24:59. He followed in the footsteps of the Gophers previous three winners at the event: Matthew Jergenson in 2014, Aaron Bartnik in 2013 and Blayne Dulian in 2012. 
Olson’s previous best finish for the team came when he took seventh in his first race at the Oz Memorial. He also set a new career-best time, breaking his previous personal best 8-kilometer time of 26:29.1 from the Roy Griak Invitational this year.
“Our captains and coaches have done a great job at setting the standard for what it takes to be a [Minnesota] athlete, which has been beneficial for the entire team,” Olson said. “There were a lot of positives to take from the year up to this point, and there are hopefully more to come with our guys competing at regionals next weekend.”
No. 26 Minnesota had the top-six overall finishes in the race, with redshirt junior Cole O’Brien and sophomore Derek Wiebke behind Olson in second and third place, respectively, both with listed times of 25:09.
Redshirt sophomore Brad Woodford finished in fourth place at 25:25; unattached freshman Evan Ferlic finished in 25:34 for fifth place, and redshirt sophomore Wayde Hall placed sixth, running a time of 25:56. 
The Gophers didn’t factor into the team scoring of the race because the team only ran four attached runners.
“We had a few guys who ran pretty well up there. It’s always a good meet to go to for some of those guys who are ending up their season,” head coach Steve Plasencia said.
“This team always seems to run pretty well. It’s a nice environment up there. It’s not real pressure filled. It’s low key, and I think our guys enjoy that.”
Women run at Rocky’s Run
Redshirt junior Taylor Mikkalson led the way for the women’s team Sunday morning at the Rocky’s Run on the Les Bolstad Golf Course, finishing her 6-kilometer race in a time of 23:35.1 for fifth place.
Redshirt freshman Molly Eastman and Emily Castanias finished just after Mikkalson as the sixth and seventh place female finishers. Eastman finished in 23:43.5, while Castanias crossed the line in 24:12.6.
Redshirt junior Melissa Cabak and redshirt sophomore Nicole Heitzman rounded out the scoring for the team in 12th and 14th place, running times of 24:35.1 and 24:40.3, respectively.
Two unattached runners had strong races for the team as well in freshmen Abby Kargol and Ally Smith. The two finished in eighth and 10th place, respectively, and ran times of 24:20.3 and 24:23.2.
“It was a great day for a race, perfect weather,” Mikkalson said. “It was great just to work with teammates today and pack-attack, and it was a lot of fun to have members of the community join us, too. Overall, it was a good day.”