Despite grueling week of workouts, Minnesota wins South Dakota race

Chris Lempesis

Last week was tough for Minnesota’s women’s cross country team. After their second-place finish at the Roy Griak Invitational last Saturday, the 11th-ranked Gophers had grueling workouts Monday and Wednesday.

The week wasn’t over yet, as they still had to run Saturday in the South Dakota State University Invitational in Brookings, S.D. As exhausted as they were, the Gophers still pulled out a win.

Minnesota took home first place at the 12-team meet with a total of 25 points, miles ahead of second-place Nebraska (56).

“We got out of (the meet) exactly what we wanted to get out of it,” coach Gary Wilson said.

“The legs were a little tired, but I was very pleased with the effort and I thought, I just thought we performed extremely well.”

The Gophers had three runners finish in the top five individually. Sophomore Ladia Albertson-Junkans was tops in that group, finishing second overall with a time of 17 minutes 15.4 seconds. She was actually the top collegiate finisher as the winner, Anne Shadle (17:12.1), ran for Reebok.

“It was kind of a run, it was more off of strength and persistence, I guess you could say,” Albertson-Junkans said.

“It wasn’t anything really exceptional, but it was a substantial race.”

Junior Emily Brown finished third (17:16.1) and senior Lauren Williams took fifth (17:43.6). Minnesota had four runners in all in the top 10 as senior Harper McConnell claimed eighth (17:57.7).

While the week certainly has been difficult, Brown said it’s good practice for what lies ahead.

“It’s kind of going to simulate what the end of the season is going to feel like,” she said. “When you’re tired from a long season of cross country and you just, you still have to remain competitive and still have to perform your best.”

Fourth place on Friday

Saturday’s meet wasn’t the only competition for the Gophers this weekend.

Minnesota sent a different team, consisting mainly of younger runners, to the Blugold Open Friday in Eau Claire, Wis.

The group turned in a strong performance, finishing fourth in the 20-team meet with 120 points.

Freshman Ariella DePrenger-Gottfried was the Gophers’ top finisher, coming in third with a time of 23:14.0.

Wilson said DePrenger-Gottfried was the “big story” Friday.

“We always, every year, we take some kids to these kinds of meets that are not quite in our top 12,” Wilson said. “And there’s always somebody, one or two kids that come out and you go ‘OK, we found our next Lauren Williams or Harper McConnell’ or one of those walk-on kids that’s going to be good.”