Minnesota women take second place

by Chris Lempesis

Running in a group that included six top 30 teams at the Roy Griak Invitational on Saturday, Minnesota’s women’s cross country team figured a top 10 finish would equal a strong day.

If a top 10 finish would have been strong, well, a second place finish would have to be considered outstanding.

And an outstanding performance is exactly what was turned in by the Gophers as they topped all but one team at the meet, held at the Les Bolstad Golf Course.

The only team that finished ahead of Minnesota was Arizona State, the No. 7 team in the country.

“We went above and beyond what we set out to do,” junior Emily Brown said. “This is the first year that we have been setting our goals really high and that we’ve had to be careful not to put them too high. But I think we just surpassed anything we could’ve planned for.”

Brown – along with senior Lauren Williams and sophomore Ladia Albertson-Junkans – was a big reason the Gophers topped their original goal. All three finished in the top 15 individually. Brown was ninth (21:17), Williams was 13th (21:26) and Albertson-Junkans was 15th (21:35).

“We pretty much ran together the entire time,” Brown said.

“That helped out tremendously, to not be alone and to just look around and see other teams that are alone and to know that you have those teammates with you battling those people.”

One runner they were unable to fight off was Arizona State senior Amy Hastings, winner of the women’s race with a time of 20:58.

While it might seem surprising that a runner from a college in the southwest was the winner, it’s less of a shock considering Hastings is from Leavenworth, Kan.

“It’s just great to be back here in the Midwest,” Hastings said.

“The weather and the grass and the trees and everything; It’s just not the desert, so it’s always a nice change.”

A nice change might also be coming Minnesota’s way. The Gophers were nationally unranked coming into Saturday’s race, but based on their showing that could change.

And to top it all off, that performance might be just the beginning.

“I don’t think anyone’s peaked yet, or even close to it,” senior Jen Hess said.

Men finish seventh

Minnesota’s men’s cross country team, ranked 25th in the country, turned in a solid performance at the Griak on Saturday, finishing seventh.

Senior Ryan Malmin turned in the top Gophers’ performance. He took 24th with a time of 24:55.

“Basically, I worked together with (sophomore) Justin Grunewald the entire race and I had him in my sights for most of the time,” Malmin said. “Without him, I definitely wouldn’t have placed as highly or kept in there as well as I did.”

Grunewald (31st) and freshman Chris Rombough (28th) were close behind Malmin, both finishing the race in 25:00.