Women dominant in taking championship at Oz Memorial Run

Chris Lempesis

Minnesota’s women’s cross country team was looking to take home the top 15 spots at Saturday’s Oz Memorial Meet at the Les Bolstad Golf Course, but the Gophers fell short.

By one spot.

Minnesota claimed the top five places, racking up a perfect score of 15 on its way to winning the three-team meet. Drake took second with 55 points while Minnesota State-Mankato finished third with 70 points.

“I think this is really positive,” senior Lauren Williams said. “I think top five is awesome at this meet, because (Drake and Minnesota State) had some great runners.”

Williams, the Gophers’ No. 1 runner, showed why she has that title, winning the race with a time of 22:22.8.

“Lauren had an awesome race,” sophomore Ladia Albertson-Junkans said. “(She) just kind of ran her own race and challenged the rest of us to kind of keep with her race.”

Albertson-Junkans ran a good race in her own right, finishing second (22:33.7). Junior Emily Brown was third (22:35.9), senior Harper McConnell was fourth (23:10.2) and senior Jen Hess was fifth (23:45.2).

Coach Gary Wilson said this group has been solidly entrenched in the top five spots on the depth chart for the past couple of weeks.

“Now it will be ‘OK, who’s going to come up and help Jen?’ ‘Who’s going to come up and help Harps?’ ” he said. “That’s the biggest job we’ve got right now.”

Wilson has a large group to choose from. After Drake’s Ashley Anklam snagged sixth (23:47.1), the rest of the top 15 belonged to Minnesota runners.

The dominance was made all the more impressive by the oppressive heat Saturday; temperatures were in the mid-to-high 80s at race time.

“That was my biggest worry today is that we wouldn’t come out of this just trashed,” Wilson said. “Because you can really Ö if you go down in this heat, you might be done for the rest of the season.”

Albertson-Junkans said she hopes Saturday’s heat will be as bad as it gets.

“That would be great,” she said. “We can get our deathly hot one out of the way and then, hopefully, have great weather for the rest of them.”

While the Gophers are hoping the weather doesn’t get any worse than Saturday’s, they hope their strong team performance remains the same.

“That’s one down,” Albertson-Junkans said. “Now we just have a few more goals left.”

Men take second

Minnesota’s men’s cross country team took second at the BYU Autumn Classic in Orem, Utah, on Saturday.

The Gophers finished with 45 points. BYU won with 23 points and Utah Valley State was third with 74.

Minnesota had two runners finish in the top 10. Sophomore Justin Grunewald finished third (20:21.7) and freshman Chris Rombough took sixth (20:46.9).

Senior Erik Grumstrup and junior Antonio Vega were both inactive Saturday because of injuries.