Rombough wins Big Ten Championships

Top-ranked Wisconsin cruised to its eighth-straight Big Ten title Sunday.

C.J. Spang

For the first time in 35 years, a man wearing a maroon and gold jersey crossed the finish line first at the men’s cross country Big Ten Championships.

Sophomore Chris Rombough won the individual title Sunday, becoming the first Minnesota runner to win the event since Garry Bjorklund won his third straight Big Ten title in 1971.

Rombough’s first-place finish helped the Gophers to a third-place finish as a team, behind Wisconsin – which won its eighth straight title in dominating fashion – and Michigan at the Indiana Cross Country Course in Bloomington, Ind.

“It was my goal to be around fifth place,” Rombough said, “so first is a big jump, but I’m happy with it.”

Before the race, some members of the team said second place was a realistic goal, but some misfortune for Minnesota didn’t allow that to happen.

Redshirt freshman Matt Barrett didn’t make the trip due to injury and freshman Mike Torchia was unable to finish the race, costing the Gophers valuable points.

Coach Steve Plasencia said the third-place finish was a slight disappointment, and that his team can do better.

“We’re going to get better in the next weeks,” he said. “We can run better than we did today.”

Women finish third

Like the men’s team, the women’s cross country team also finished third at the 2006 Big Ten Championships.

Senior Emily Brown and junior Ladia Albertson- Junkans led the Gophers with sixth- and seventh-place finishes, respectively, and Minnesota finished one point behind Wisconsin for third place. Michigan won the event thanks to a one-two finish by juniors Erin Webster and Alyson Kohlmeier.

“Michigan ran very, very well,” Minnesota coach Gary Wilson said. “No one was going to beat them today.”

As for his team’s finish, Wilson said it was disappointing, but that this race was the toughest conference championship he’s seen in 20 years at the helm of the program.

“It was the toughest conference meet that I’ve ever seen in 20 years in terms of that much depth, that many individuals changing places and fighting for spots,” he said. “So it was fun to watch.”

Wilson said sophomore Gabriele Anderson really helped the team to its third-place finish, as she closed the gap between herself and freshman Elizabeth Yetzer.

Yetzer wasn’t feeling well and Anderson helped her finish the race, according to Wilson.

But overall, Wilson had nothing but praise for his team.

“I was very pleased with the kids,” he said. “They gave their hearts and souls and guts, so if you walk away like that, you can’t be disappointed.”