Gophers host Jack’s Run in second-to-last home meet

Head coach Gary Wilson will use the weekend to decide his Big Ten roster.

by Dane Mizutani

As the womenâÄôs cross country team hosts JackâÄôs Run this weekend at Les Bolstad Golf Course, head coach Gary Wilson said he knows eight of the nine runners he will run in the Big Ten meet Oct. 30 in Champaign, Ill.

He said he hoped he didnâÄôt have to see a run-off in the final meet before the Big Ten Championships, but thatâÄôs exactly what the team will do.

Danielle LeBreck, Rachel Drake, Annie Talajkowski, Andrea Rediger and Claire Rindo are notable names competing for the final roster spot.

âÄúIf I had a front runner I would just pick that person and go,âÄù Wilson said.

Unfortunately for Wilson, he does not.

âÄúWe really pounded [the idea] into them all year. We said, âÄòDo not take one or two races lightly because it could cost you.âÄô

âÄúNobody took any of these races up to this point lightly, but every kid had one or two races that was a little bit off.âÄù

Though it is considered a run-off, the person who wins the JackâÄôs Run wonâÄôt necessarily be the one who earns the final roster spot.

âÄúWe look at the whole season still,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúIf there is a decisive winner then [we will know right away], but if thereâÄôs not a decisive winner thatâÄôs not decisive.âÄù

While tension involving the competition for the final spot may be ubiquitous throughout the course this weekend, there is a deeper meaning to the meet itself.

The JackâÄôs Run is named in honor of longtime team equipment manager Jack Johnson, who died of liver cancer in February 2006.

âÄúJack was a very close friend of mine,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúHe was just a guy that loved this team and loved the kids and so this is just, No. 1, a way to honor him; and then No. 2, to raise some money to help his endowment.âÄù

Before his death, Johnson donated $25,000 to an endowment fund.

Its value has continued to grow.

âÄúWeâÄôve added to it every year,âÄù Wilson said. âÄúI think itâÄôs up to almost $40,000 right now.âÄù