Five races in two days for Minnesota cross country teams

The Gophers were at meets in Illinois and Wisconsin over the weekend.

Gopher women's cross country prepares to run the 33rd annual Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2019.

Tony Saunders

Gopher women’s cross country prepares to run the 33rd annual Roy Griak Invitational at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2019.

Babatunde Jinadu

The Minnesota cross country program split up to compete in five different races from Friday through Saturday.

First, on Friday, seven runners from the women’s team saw action in Peoria, Illinois at the Bradley Classic. Lindsey Greenlund led this Gophers’ squad, with a personal record time of 21:51.2, as Minnesota placed 17th in the team standings among Iowa State University, South Dakota State University, the University of Illinois and others.

“Bradley is where they’re hosting the regional meet in a couple of weeks,” head coach Sarah Hopkins said. “I figured it would be good to get on to that course and give some people an opportunity who don’t normally get to travel.”

Then, on Saturday, Minnesota’s top runners competed in Madison, Wisconsin at the NCAA Pre-Nationals meet. On a chilly day, the men’s team finished 18th overall, while the women’s team ran to a seventh overall finish.

“I think we did a really nice job” senior Patty O’Brien said. “Megan [Hasz] and Bethany [Hasz] had awesome races up at the front, and then the next group really packed up together and worked in the field to keep [us] moving up.”

Bethany and Megan Hasz lead the way on the six kilometer course, finishing fifth and 14th overall, in times of 20:18.3 and 20:31.1 respectively. For the men’s team, Alec Basten ran the eight-kilometer course in a time of 24:20.4 to finish 33rd overall.

The Pre-Nationals meet featured an array of nationally ranked competitors, and it took place on the same course that will later host this year’s NCAA Championships. The performances served as a good indication that the Hasz sisters have a fair chance to earn All American status this post-season.

Finally, additional athletes from both the men’s and women’s teams ran at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. The Jim Drews Invitational hosted the men’s field, and the Tori Neubauer Invite welcomed the women’s team. The women’s team took sixth place overall in what was an opportunity for some of their developing athletes to travel on the road.

After a busy weekend, the cross country teams will have a break in their schedule, before the women’s team hosts Jack’s Twilight Run at Les Bolstad Golf Course on Oct. 19. Open to the public, the Twilight Run serves as an opportunity for anyone and everyone to get on the course and compete with top racers from the area.

Following Jack’s Twilight Run, the 2018 cross country season will come to a close for some athletes on the team, because only the top-nine runners are able to travel to the Big Ten Championships meet in Lincoln, Nebraska on Oct 28, and then to the NCAA Midwest Regionals meet in early November.

Two years ago, Megan Hasz finished 11th overall at the Big Ten Championships meet, and then in 2017 she finished in fifth place. Meanwhile, in 2016, Bethany Hasz finished 20th overall, then one year later she took 10th place.

Looking to the future for the both of the twins, Bethany Hasz said that their goal is to “try to stay confident; the goal is to be in the top three.”