Women hope to finalize roster at Jack’s Open

by Derek Wetmore

In whatâÄôs becoming a weekly battle, the womenâÄôs cross country team is searching for resolution to its roster. The fourth annual JackâÄôs Co-Ed Run will help put rest to that indecision, presumably for the remainder of the season. The team can have nine runners at the Big Ten Championships on Halloween, and head coach Gary Wilson said they are set on eight. SaturdayâÄôs meet in Falcon Heights will help determine who receives that final spot. The JackâÄôs Run is named after longtime team equipment manager Jack Johnson, who died of liver cancer in February 2006. Upon his death, Johnson donated $25,000 to endow a scholarship in his name. One-third of the proceeds from the weekendâÄôs meet go to fund that scholarship. The remaining money is split between the Angel Foundation of Minnesota âÄî which supports cancer patients and their families âÄî and the Tesfa Foundation, supporting rape victims in Ethiopia. As for the GophersâÄô roster situation, the eight runners with secured spots will have the weekend off. Among those competing for the final spot are Claire Rindo, Maggie Bollig, Kathryn Ritter, Katie Salvatore, Kelly Wilson, Katie Dyson and Cassy Opitz. Wilson said it may be RindoâÄôs spot to lose after she impressed coaches with her progression following a two-meet absence. Those arenâÄôt the only candidates for the final spot, Wilson said, but they are the ones in the best position based on previous meets. The problem with the run-off âÄî and the several supposed run-offs in the past âÄî is that it isnâÄôt just a matter of who finishes first one day. Coaches said they look at a composite of the last few races and focus on how a runner is progressing recently. The winner of the final roster spot for the Big Ten championships may well not be the runner who finishes first at JackâÄôs run. SaturdayâÄôs meet isnâÄôt the only race in memoriam of Johnson, a former close friend of WilsonâÄôs. There is also a race in the Griak Invitational and an indoor meet carrying his namesake. Johnson, who started at the University in 1961 and worked here for nearly 40 years, didnâÄôt have much remaining family when he contracted the disease, Wilson said. âÄúWhat we try to do is just honor him with JackâÄôs run and the other [races],âÄù Wilson said. âÄúHe loved the team. This team was like his family.âÄù Related: – U students welcome to compete in cross country meet (blog)