Top runners will once again rest as Gophers prepare for NCAA midwest regional

Minnesota will host the Rocky’s Run at Les Bolstad Golf Course in St. Paul.

by Mark Remme

The Minnesota women’s cross country team will rest its top runners again this weekend at Rocky’s Run, a 5-kilometer race held at Les Bolstad Golf Course Sunday at 10 a.m.

The Gophers, coming off a Big Ten championship in Columbus, Ohio, last weekend, will rest their top nine runners who competed last week largely due to the NCAA Midwest Regional they will take part in next weekend in Peoria, Ill.

Minnesota jumped in the national rankings two spots to No. 6 after winning the conference title for the first time in school history.

There is no team scoring at the Rocky’s Run event. As with Jack’s Run two weeks ago, the general public is welcomed to participate in the race and donations will be put toward a scholarship in memory of former Gophers cross country runner Rocky Racette.

Racette, a former All-American, died in an automobile accident in 1981.

Big Ten honors

The Minnesota women’s cross country coach was among several Gophers honored by the Big Ten this week as conference awards were passed out.

Gary Wilson, a 23-year veteran as Minnesota’s head coach, was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year. It is his second in three seasons, as Wilson earned the Outdoor Track Coach of the Year in 2006, his last year as head track and field coach.

Senior Ladia Albertson-Junkans and junior Gabriele Anderson were selected as All-Big Ten Second Team selections after finishing 10th and 14th, respectively, and the Big Ten Championships.

Albertson-Junkans was also the Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner.

For the men’s team, freshman Hassan Mead was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Mead is the second Gophers cross country runner to receive the award. Will McComb was the first in 1999.

Mead and senior Chris Rombough were also both awarded All-Big Ten First Team honors for their top five finishes at the Big Ten Championships.

Lastly, Minnesota redshirt freshman Mike McFarland earned the Big Ten Sportsmanship award.

Men to St. John’s

The Minnesota men’s cross country team will send five of its runners to Collegeville to race in the St. John’s Fall Finale.

The meet will take place today at 4:30 p.m.

The Fall Finale is an unscored race that coach Steve Plasencia said is a way to keep runners on his roster running competitively late in the season after restrictions on roster numbers become more strict.

Teams competing in the Big Ten Championships could only race nine runners, and Plasencia will only be able to race seven at the NCAA Midwest Regional next weekend.

Plasencia said a race like the Fall Finale is a way to keep these runners ready in case they’re needed at the national race.

Notes

The men’s team is ranked No. 15 in the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association poll released Oct. 30, largely due to its second place finish at the Big Ten Championships last weekend.

Minnesota jumped seven spots from the Oct. 16 poll.

The Gophers will be running 10-kilometer races at the NCAA regional and championships, a considerable jump from the 8-kilometer races they’ve ran all year.

While they do it every year, Plasencia said in the next week or two he will be designing the team’s workouts to get them ready for the longer races so they can remain competitive.